They Call it Issue Advertising. We Call it Boob Bait.

If you live in Washington D.C., you might want to check in on the Competitive Enterprise Institute. They've been saying some strange things lately. Maybe someone up there took the wrong medication.

The CEI has started a new issue advertising campaign to counter former Vice President Gore's global warming documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." I'm not opposed to the energy industry or the business community having its say on global warming. The scientific consensus that the earth is getting warmer doesn't answer all, or even most, of the policy questions this "inconvenient truth" poses. We need a robust, informed conversation about it.

cei-logo.jpgBased on the CEI's ad campaign, however, I have to assume industry fears this conversation and wants only to derail it.

"Carbon Dioxide. They call it pollution. We call it life," has to be the most embarassing tagline I've seen since the "Join the Coffee Achievers" campaign celebrating caffeine overdose.

The two ads carrying the CEI slogan, which you can see here, attempt to bolster their challenge to the science of global warming by saying, essentially, that carbon dioxide should not be considered a pollutant, since we breathe it.

Out. We breathe it out. For us and our fellow animals, carbon dioxide is a waste product. Using the CEI's logic, we're wasting an awful lot of money on sewer systems, since the stuff that runs through those things is also, uh, natural. Plants use carbon dioxide. Plants use poop, too. But that doesn't mean we should all go s***ting in the forest like we used to.

Anyway, the theory of global warming doesn't equate carbon dioxide with smog. It's all about how earth's climate — which geological history shows to be inherently unstable already — is being transformed by the heat-trapping effect of excessive carbon dioxide.

Who are these ads for? Until now, I always thought of CEI as a conservative, free-market think tank, a respectable vehicle for scholars of that persuasion. No more. These disgraceful ads are "boob bait for the bubbas" of the right.


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