Muckraker: Grist on Politics

The New York Times reports on the competing green balls that will welcome in the new president tonight. There’s Al Gore’s green gala and another ball put on by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation. (A third green ball, hosted by Planet Green, already took place on Saturday night.)

Tonight’s dueling balls showcase an interesting dichotomy within the green movement. Gore’s ball, which has more of an activist bent, is co-hosted by the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, the Vote Solar Initiative, and Youth for Environmental Sanity, among many other groups and businesses. Wal-Mart, KPMG, and the American Gas Association are also on board, but these and other corporate sponsors have incorporated green practices into their businesses, say the Gore folk. The organizers are decorating with tree seedlings, using recycled-fiber carpet, recycling and composting waste, and offsetting their carbon emissions. The food is going to be organic, and cooked across the street, to lower the carbon footprint, natch. Will.i.am and Maroon 5 will serenade the crowd.

The International Conservation Caucus Foundation’s ball is hosted by The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and WWF, among others, and will be just a few blocks down the street. “Roses will be flown in from Ecuador. Marinated beef is being flown in from Texas to Virginia, where it will be grilled and then trucked to the auditorium,” reports the Times. “We are not into symbolism,” said caucus president David H. Barron. “We are focused on a much bigger impact.” As the Times puts it, “the caucus gala sticks to its philosophy that the environment and wildlife are most effectively protected by governments and businesses.” To that end, sponsors include ExxonMobil, Chevron, International Paper, and Wal-Mart (which appears to be hedging its bets). Famous anticipated guests include Robert Duvall, Bo Derek, and Ed Norton.

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I’ll be reporting from the Gore gala this evening, so you’ll get the inside scoop. (Don’t worry, I’ll be taking public transit and recycling my prom dress.)