Grand Conspiracies And Occam’s Razor

The other day, I wrote about Al Gore’s speech in Washington where he expressed his ongoing concern about global warming and carbon footprints — showing up to deliver his message in a motorcade of two limousines and and SUV. I talked about how he actually was a tiny bit correct in his position, but that was overwhelmed by his own hypocrisy and exaggerations.

In the comments, though, one of our more out-there regular detractors, “dr lava,” made a few very cogent points about the issue. However, like Gore’s, what little he had to say of value was overwhelmed by sheer BS. One paragraph leaped out at me:

Breaking the propaganda stranglehold oil and coal companies have on the American public is the main challenge here. Limbaugh and Hannity are paid big money to keep their listeners in the dark about the green economy and the empowerment of the American people to break their addictions to expensive, dirty energy and take charge of their own energy production.

Hmm… Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity (I’m presuming those are the gentlemen to whom lava is referring; he violated the rule of giving the person’s full name on first reference) are in the pockets of Big Oil (and Big Coal) and repeat those industries’ lies for financial gain. Let’s take a look at that, shall we?

First up, a confession. I don’t listen or watch either Limbaugh or Hannity. Their styles put me off a bit. Obviously, that’s not a universal sentiment, as they are both extremely popular, but they just don’t appeal to me. So I might mess up some details about them, but I think I can wing it well enough.

Limbaugh was in the news recently for signing a contract extension with Clear Channel Communications through 2016 which was reported to be worth over $400 million. That works out to $50 million a year, in the simplest terms. (Which I’m sure were not the case, as there was likely a very hefty “signing bonus” involved, as well as performance bonuses and a sliding-scale increase every year and whatnot, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll say it’s a straight $50 million/year.)

That’s a lot of money, far more than most people need or can readily use.

So how much could Big Oil be paying Rush that he’d be willing to risk his standing with his fans by taking payola? It’d be like Brad Pitt cruising the streets for a hooker. (OK, it happened with Hugh Grant, but that’s a wild exception.) Or Hugh Hefner looking for the next Playmate of the Month on Craig’s List. Theoretically possible, but highly, highly unlikely in practice.

OK, so Limbaugh isn’t likely to be directly taking money from Big Oil. Could they be funneling it through Clear Channel?

Well, Clear Channel is a publicly-traded company. So, for that matter, are the companies that make up that evil cabal called Big Oil. The kinds of money transfers that would be necessary to buy off Limbaugh would be fairly traceable.

Sean Hannity: similar story. He’s mainly known through his work on Fox News, where the ratings for Hannity and Colmes are consistently very high. And his talk show on radio is also very, very successful. In both cases, Hannity is part of a very profitable program, and I am sure is rewarded quite handsomely for his successes.

In other words, both men already make plenty of money doing what they are doing now, and in both cases a healthy dose of that can be attributed to their fans perceiving them as independent voices, straight-talkers, who make their trade in speaking their unvarnished and untainted opinions to the masses.

This stands in stark contrast with Air America, their ideological opposite, which has suffered abysmal ratings and one financial setback and scandal after another, which makes it abundantly clear that their business model is NOT based on mass appeal and making money.

I guess it is possible that Limbaugh and Hannity are being paid off by Big Oil and Big Coal to spread their propaganda and suppress The Truth About Global Warming (oh, I’m sorry, “The Truth About Climate Change”), but it’s not bloody likely.

On the other hand, there’s Al Gore. A failed politician who latched on to his current cause and turned it into a whole second career. Gore, who has made literally millions and millions off promoting the cause of fighting Global Warming Climate Change. Who started an investment fund that pushes “green” projects (and, I’m sure, has rewarded him handsomely). Who has made heaps and heaps of money selling and trading “carbon credits.” Who has sunk pretty much every bit of himself into this cause, but hasn’t demonstrated a single iota of personal commitment into living his life the way he says he wants us all to live.

On the one hand, Limbaugh and Hannity. On the other, Gore. Which has nearly their entire personal financial well-being built on the issue of Global Warming Climate Change? Which side has the most to gain — and lose — in pushing their agenda?

I don’t have any hard facts on either side, but Occam’s Razor says that when confronted with multiple explanations, the simplest one is usually the correct one. And in this case, it’s clear that the side that has the most invested financially, the most to gain — or lose — financially, is not Hannity and Limbaugh, but Gore.

The decades-old wisdom of Watergate continues to echo true: “follow the money.” There isn’t a direct link between what Limbaugh and Hannity say and their wallets. But there is a gold-plated chain that goes straight from what Al Gore says to his own pockets. Toss in how the absolutely refuses to live a lifestyle consistent with his own stated beliefs and principles, but has a “carbon footprint” that probably dwarfs both Limbaugh’s and Hannity’s, and you can’t help but question the man’s sincerity.

Thank you, dr lava, for pushing your cockamamie “Limbaugh and Hannity are being paid off by Big Oil and Big Coal” conspiracy theory. It is, of course, utterly laughable at its face — but it got me to thinking about who just might be making money off the whole situation.

Did you ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?
Eight Dollar Gas