Al Gore, who aspires to be Mr. Reddy Kilowatt himself, and David Cameron, the grassy-green leader of Britain's Conservatives, are calling in reinforcements. But only each other.
Al will take his Sunday-best "earth tones" to London this week to address the Tory shadow Cabinet, a collection of wannabes who would be the actual Cabinet if the Tories could figure out a way to dislodge Tony Blair's Labor government. Mr. Cameron, willing to try everything, wants Al to tell them how to paint Britain a deeper shade of green.
Inviting the American loser of '00, a liberal Democrat, to impart a late education to the Tories, long regarded as the friends of the Republicans, sounds like an invitation to a fool's errand, but Mr. Cameron has concluded that the only way the Tories can displace Labor is to demonstrate that he's greener than thou, Al, Tony, or anyone else.
Al has become the face of radical environmentalism, preaching the wrath to come in a hellfire of global warming. But he's likely to face a few skeptics when he steps up to speak to the shadow Cabinet at the House of Commons. The British, as a visitor to Old Blighty quickly learns, aren't much in a mood to listen to Americans with bright ideas. They've preserved occasional remnants of the once formidable British disdain of humbuggery.
Mr. Cameron, for example, is widely derided for his Gore-like pretense of true believer of the green gospel. He made a big show not long ago of installing a $5,000 wind turbine on the roof of his home in central London, only to concede later that it actually cuts no carbon emissions because there's never enough wind in London to make a wind turbine turn. (But it does add an unusual architectural flourish to his roof.)
Mr. Cameron even rides his bicycle to work, where, the late George Wallace would be pleased to know, he's learning to park it straight. This won loud applause until it "emerged," as the London newspapers put it that Mr. Cameron had assigned his chauffeur to follow behind in his limousine with his briefcase and his office shoes. (Nice briefcase, though, and his shoes look well-made and nicely polished.)
Al will have a lot to discuss with Mr. Cameron, beginning with that enormous light bill in his house in Nashville. Al and Tipper concede that they spend more on electricity in a month than the average Nashville household spends in a year, but they do have the excuse that they have eight bathrooms and you certainly wouldn't expect them to do their business in the dark. Mr. Cameron should invite the Gores to do their business at his house, where he has installed a 660-gallon tank to collect rainwater to service the toilets. He's flush, you might say, with the accoutrements of doing business properly.
Both Al and Dave aspire to something called "carbon neutrality" and are trying to offset their emissions by trading indulgences with lesser beings. When Al flies off to hither and back to yon in a private jet to perform his duties as public scold, scarfing "dirty" jet fuel, he tries to offset these emissions by taking other energy-saving steps, such as installing smaller light bulbs in his closets. Truthfully, it's inconvenient, but who will risk stubbing his toe in a dim closet to save the planet if Al won't?
Al can learn a lot from the Tories. Only yesterday they proposed steep new taxes on air travel, attempting to limit everyone to one airline trip annually. "Everyone could be entitled to one short-haul return flight per year at the standard tax rate," the Tory paper sets out, "but additional flights would be charged at a higher rate." The green geeks and environmental freaks applauded wildly, of course, but the British Air Transport Association observed that the Tory proposals "would decimate the airline industry, the hundreds of jobs it supports and put at risk the [British] position as the global transport hub and our links with the rest of the world."
Al arrives in London just as the global-warming "debate," which the geeks and freaks are trying desperately to avoid, is finally become an actual argument. A widely watched British television documentary called "The Great Global Warming Swindle" is encouraging a growing number of distinguished scientists to dissent from the Gospel According to St. Al (and Brother Dave). It's always nice to get reinforcements, but Al and Dave are learning that zero plus zero is nevertheless zero.