A right-wing think tank called the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has been selling this gimmicky horseshit to the blogs and mainstream media. It’s everywhere; Drudge picked it up, and a friend of mine saw it on the local news here in Seattle just last night.

Jim Henley nails it so perfectly I just have to quote him in full:

Al Gore uses a lot of electricity. Al Gore buys carbon offsets. Libertarians who take anthropogenic global warming seriously – count me among them – generally favor markets in emissions over hard regulatory targets for individual homes and businesses. That way people and companies can decide to conserve or offset or buy unused capacity as they see fit, minimizing emissions while maximizing utility.

Curiously, the "free market" think tank that gives us our first link declares that Gore’s free choice to use his own money to offset his family’s carbon output makes him a "hypocrite," since he thinks global warming is bad. This may seem odd, but perusing the Hit & Run comment thread from which I got the above links will clarify: libertarians believe in principles, and one of the most important principles is

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.


Therefore anything he does is wrong. I believe this is explained somewhere in the works of Ludwig von Mises.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

See also ThinkProgress. See also me.

Update [2007-2-27 12:5:42 by David Roberts]: Lots more on this over at HuffPo. Turns out the TN Tax Dept. doesn’t consider this outfit a legitimate organization. The head of the think tank is a long-time right-wing operative. This is how the right-wing media machine works — you’re watching it unfold in real-time.