Al Gore’s Inconvenient Enron

by Chris Horner

This is a worthy topic for continued congressional exploration. In short, the video and accompanying narrative dissect Al Gore’s Friday Capitol Hill appearance touting a scheme to ration energy while in the process rewarding those businesses who helped concoct the scheme:

Al Gore obfuscates, downplays and refuses to discuss the role that CEOs have played in crafting his Cap-and-Trade C02 trading schemes and carbon swapping systems.

Al Gore tries to put a lid in Congressional committee testimony on a little reported but vitally important subject in the global warming, carbon-tax ‘debate’ — the new derivatives bubble in the emerging green-energy credit-swap market. . . .

The point from Rep. Scalise that is gaveled over by the chairman and stuttered-over by Gore is that many of the Congressmen are ‘concerned about turning over our energy economy over to firms like Enron and some of these Wall Street firms that wrecked out financial economy.’

Fmr. Vice President Al Gore denies that Ken Lay and other CEOs developed carbon scheme: “I didn’t know him well enough to call him ‘Kenny-boy’.

Of course, Gore wasn’t the home-state governor of this Fortune 15 company either, so I guess his supposed lack of familiarity (keep reading) would make sense. But one might ask what nickname Gore had for close family friend and (ahem) benefactor, the Soviet stooge Armand Hammer? Maurice Strong? The gang at his own personal Enron — scam-artist and buddy-run Molten Metals? Et cetera, et cetera…

 

Here, we see how Gore lapses into his true self, well-known before adoption of this Right Reverend persona, awkwardly trying to change the subject from something that is rightly discomfiting to him. So allow me to address the point, as there is much, much more to the story.

 

Twelve years ago almost to this very day, I left my law firm to accept a position that had rather unexpectedly fallen in my lap: I had gotten a call from Enron asking me to be their Director of Federal Government Relations. Everyone polled suggested it was a great opportunity, a company admired throughout town, not only by the Clinton-Gore administration (with which it was very close), but by Republicans, too.

 

I believe it was my first day on the job when I walked into my boss’s office in Enron’s suite across from the White House, smack into a meeting between her and two of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s senior DC officials. The next day, I sat in for “Kenny Boy” at a meeting in the fancy D.C. offices of a New York law firm, around a table of Baptists and bootleggers, rent-seekers and green puritans, all discussing how to ensure a global-warming treaty came about according to our collective design, and how to rope the U.S. into it.

 

Seeing very measured groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists on my immediate left (naturally), I turned to a representative of one of the rent-seekers (in on the meeting were the American Gas Association, Niagara-Mohawk Power, and BP, among others) on my right and asked, “What are we doing sitting around a table with a bunch of people who want to put us out of business?” I was told with a laugh, “They want to put coal out of business first.”

 

Lovely people, these folks kind enough to introduce me to the world’s second-oldest profession — making one’s fortune off of policy favors from buddies in government instead of by innovation or competition. Frederic Bastiat, phone your office.

 

So I fired off a “Houston, we have a problem” missive to my boss asking if Enron knew what it was getting into in this group. That’s when they explained the specifics of their business plan to me — which did include setting up a trading business with Goldman, by the way, as one of Goldman’s energy practice chiefs at the time also roared to me in joy about about all of the money they were going to make. This cannot conceivably be news to Al Gore and his VC partner and former Goldman pooh-bah David Blood discussed in the linked item above.

 

This plan has since been carried off to greener pastures by any number of Kenny Boy’s protégés — including one of the most vocal leaders of the current industry push for the cap-and-trade rationing scheme, as I detail in Red Hot Lies. Read that if you want to know just how Rep. Scalise really did nail things in his questioning.

 

Anyway, fast forward a few uncomfortable weeks of retaliatory behavior that I am confident you wouldn’t believe — but I’d be happy to take a speaking fee to tell you about. I’m no longer with the company, and Enron and the greens continue to pursue their agenda — which happens to be Congress’s current agenda. Soon thereafter, in July 1997, a unanimous Senate votes pursuant to Art. II, Sec. 2, gives its (unsolicited) “advice” to Clinton-Gore not to go to Kyoto and agree to that beast of a treaty. In December, Al Gore flies off to Kyoto and does just that.

 

The intervening event? An August 4, 1997 Oval Office meeting with Kenny Boy, Sir John Browne (then of BP), and the president and vice president of the United States. Let that sink in. Al Gore says he didn’t know the guy. But anyone who can even spell “Beltway” can tell you that that kind of attention requires serious influence. Ask Gordon Brown.

 

As revealed by the August 1, 1997, Kenny Boy briefing memo that entered the public record after the Enron unpleasantness, in this meeting Kenny Boy was to demand that the Senate be ignored, that the administration agree to Kyoto, and — most important — that it contain a cap-and-trade scheme.

 

I know where “advice and consent” is in the Constitution. I’m not so sure where Ken Lay and Sir John Browne are, probably in the back with all of the scary stuff. Anyway, you know who won.

 

So, in tossing things back to Gore to finally answer the question, I leave you with key excerpts from the “what I did in Kyoto” memo by Lay’s Kyoto aide (yep, he had one), John Palmissano, hailing Enron’s success:

  • “This treaty [Kyoto] is exactly what I have been lobbying for.”
  • “This agreement will be good for Enron stock!!”
  • “Enron now has excellent credentials with many ‘green’ interests including Greenpeace, [World Wildlife Fund], [Natural Resources Defense Council], German Watch, the U.S. Climate Action Network, the European Climate Action Network, Ozone Action, WRI . . . ”
  • “This position should be increasingly cultivated and capitalized on (monitized) [sic].”
  • “if implemented, this agreement will do more to promote Enron’s business than will almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring of the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States.”

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