This past Friday, to the delight of the environmental awareness community and the dismay of his political opponents, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize.

As conservative pundits rhetorically ask what he has done to deserve this award, I ask: what has he done to deserve this treatment?

Gore has made environmental protection a centerpiece issue throughout his tenure in Congress and the White House. For this he was first mocked (George H.W. Bush dubbed him “Ozone Man” in the 1992 campaign); then, more recently – as his warnings about climate change became more salient and scientifically strengthened – he was attacked in the media. Alarmist. Hypocrite. Self-aggrandizer. If you watched cable news channels after the release of “An Inconvenient Truth,” this is probably much of what you heard, whether it was presented subtly or in classic Sean Hannity howling-ape fashion.

Rather than attempt to dispute the evidence or substance of Gore’s argument, blowhard commentators continue to take the low road and deliver ad hominem attacks and irrational gripes. Apparently, trying to make the world a safer place for continued human existence is an invitation for name-calling and intense personal scrutiny. But being the media’s hacky sack shouldn’t be a new feeling for him.

Before he was Al Gore: Alarmist Hypocrite, he was Al Gore: Serial Exaggerator – this was the media mantra during the 2000 presidential campaign. Remember how he invented the Internet? Well, he didn’t, and he never claimed that he did. He merely took credit for championing and funding the initiatives (something congressmen tend to do) that took an emergency military computer network and turned it into the greatest revolution in worldwide communication ever. But once the so-called “liberal” media took hold of the ‘compulsive liar’ hook, it didn’t let go.

In January 2000, Gore recounted to a high school audience how one teenage girl’s letter about toxic waste in her hometown eventually led to the passing of the law that created Superfund, a nationwide effort to clean up hazardous dump sites. In covering this inspiring speech, both the New York Times and Washington Post misquoted him, changing “That was the one that started it all,” to “I was the one that started it all.” Even after the papers issued corrections, he was lambasted in the media – Gore the lying egotist strikes again.

These sorts of examples (there are many more) could be partially chalked up to pack mentality and general laziness in reporting, but what is it today that conjures up such spite for the man – especially now that he has gotten out of the political game? I fail to see the benefit to O’Reilly and company as they rail against Gore night after night in an apparent attempt to discredit him. Perhaps it’s part of their deluded crusade for (distorted) truth and (partisan) justice.

To be fair, Gore wasn’t the only one who has been subject to such harsh treatment. Let’s not forget that George W. Bush – with constant gaffes like “Is our children learning?” – was criticized by the media during the 2000 campaign for appearing to be “stupid.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Cutshall is a member of the class of 2009.

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