CEI: Truthiness, rather than truth, to destroy the future

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is launching a national advertising campaign attacking Al Gore. And, via the attacks on Gore, seeking to undermine a growing understanding by Americans that we must act in face of global warming or face quite serious consequences.

CEI is focusing on attacking the messenger, rather than the message, since it (and other deniers living in the Black Hole of Denial) are on the retreat when it comes to Global Warming as their message flies in face of the reality staring us / the US in our faces. 

Now, for a moment, let us take a stroll through “the messenger” before going to message. 


  • Has been an industry front-piece since its formation in 1984.
  • Has played a role in setting up numerous Astroturf organizations.
  • Has regularly misrepresented scientific evidence, even leading Science to react that CEI advertising “”misrepresents the conclusions of the two cited Science papers… by selective referencing”.
  • Was a major voice for the tobacco industry arguing that there was no substantive science linking tobacco with cancer.

Hmmm … Scientists, authors, editors react to CEI work by stating that CEI “misrepresents” their work.  (Royal Society calls CEI out for distorting the issue.) A leading voice in arguing that tobacco is not linked to cancer.  Forget their funding sources, their record of truthiness should lead us / the US to dismiss them out-of-hand.  Their record should lead to dismissal, but that heavy funding means that they have a (loud) voice in the system.

And, today, the funding will support an attack on Al Gore, seeking to undermine the general public’s understanding of Global Warming via truthiness attacks on Gore.  Attack the messenger rather than message. 

threat to affordable energy posed by Al Gore’s global warming agenda.

Yes, it is “Al Gore’s” agenda, not something supported by science, by data, by reality.  No, it is a specific politician’s agenda.  Messenger rather than message. 

Since they (and their supporters) will argue that this discussion is simply attacking “messenger”, let us look at “message”.

focusing on the threat to affordable energy posed by Al Gore’s global warming agenda

This is the fundamental challenge, the fundamental dishonesty and truthiness. Yes, they claim, “affordable energy” is threatened by taking action to deal with Global Warming.  And, it is truthiness rather than truth.  “Affordable Energy” with restricting costs to “internalized” costs within a contract. Let us not consider societal costs related to health care, damage to habitable and crop land, etc … No, for CEI, polluting the air and water that you, I, and our children breathe and drink is not to be considered in the equation.  The hability of the planet. Not on the agenda.  And, “energy” is simply the source of power, it is not in any way a holistic look at the overall energy situation.  Combining efficiency with cleaner energy production will provide fiscal benefits, even without considering “external” costs.  It is more affordable to be energy efficient than energy wasteful, but CEI wouldn’t want anyone to consider this, because that could lead to less coal being mined and less cash into CEI’s coffers..  Internalize the costs of polluting energy practices into contracts and efficiency/clean power will become the far more affordable option.

The ads contrast Gore’s energy-consuming lifestyle with the life-and-death need for energy in developing countries.

Well, this will be real truthiness. Gore “uses 20 times the energy” without mentioning that (a) this is not true, (b) the energy is renewable,  and (c) counted in this statistic are things like an office in his home employing many people.   But, the misleading nature of the ads’ details really is beside the point. What they will miss, entirely, is that Gore is practicing what he preaches for people to do:  take responsibility and action in their lives.  Gore has put in compact flourescent lightbulbs.  He has put in solar power.  He is invested in and working with people seeking new options for the future for energy efficiency and renewable power.  Hmmm … He is practicing what he preaches. 

Might I suggest that while one can undermine CEI as messenger while remaining truthful, CEI has to resort to distorting truthiness to try to undermine Gore.  And, when it comes to Global Warming, just like with Tobacco, with truth, than

CEI as tool of destructive behavior by individuals and society

When it comes to Global Warming, CEI is a tool to do what it succeeded in doing for the tobacco industry: confuse the discussion to enable delay and obstruction against meaningful moves to change the nation’s (and globe’s) path toward a healthier one.  While CEI could be said to be complicit in damaging the health of millions due to its efforts on behalf of the tobacco industry, does that extend to billions when discussing their role to obstruct progress on Global Warming?

NOTE: Okay, according to American Progress, this is all of a $30,000 ad buy.  They are happy to have the echo-chamber to spread their anti-Eco messages.


2 responses to “CEI: Truthiness, rather than truth, to destroy the future

  1. Hmmm… Anyone out there with the $$ to put up a counter ad immediately?

    It would be great to have, during prime time on network TV, a video digest of all the ways Gore is accounting for his energy use (including getting the zoning laws of his town changed to allow solar), ending with “I did it, and you can, too. Here’s how!” directing people to a phone number or web site for more info, or even better, getting them to call their congresspeople to pass strong global warming legislation.

  2. Pingback: co2 blog » Blog Archiv » CEI: Thruthiness rather than truth to destroy the future, guest editorial

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