Trust me, I have no personal grudge against Al Gore. For me it mattered very little that George Bush instead of Gore got to be president - I consider them both bad for the country, only in slightly different ways. True, I find Gore's style difficult to stomach - his posture of piety irks me a lot. But Bush's swagger is no better.

So it is nothing personal when I distrust Gore's climate change/global warming crusade. Part of it is my principled skepticism of all things political these days. And make no mistake, Gore's crusade is political, despite what he keeps telling us, namely, "We face a truly planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue; it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity." He reiterated this point again when he spoke about his receipt of a share of the Nobel Peace Prize recently.

What's troubling about this declaration is that it is just plainly false. So Gore is being disingenuous. Why?

A political issue is one that is debated with an eye to forging public policies, legally enforceable edicts which if one disobeys can land one in jail. For example, if someone urges that smoking pot be made illegal or legal, one is involved in a political issue. The law will either condemn or liberate those who smoke pot, period. A moral and spiritual issue, in contrast, is one that depends on one's voluntary actions. For example, if someone chooses to give money to charity, this is a moral issue. Not doing so does not make one a lawbreaker. Doing so doesn't have anything to do with compliance with the law or some public policy. Or take supporting the arts or sciences or championing sexual abstinence or marital fidelity. All of these are a matter of morality, of freely choosing to do what one believes to be the right thing. You could also consider it all spiritual in that what is involved is one's personal values, values pertaining to how to live one's life as a matter of one's free choice.

The climate change/global warming issue is clearly of the political type. Gore and others who advocate the idea that "We face a true planetary emergency" want to have various laws passed and public policies instituted, nation and worldwide. These would be mandatory, not something the millions of those affected would have to decide about on their own, with no legal sanctions attending to what they decide. Quite the contrary.

All this should be plain, and to deny it as Gore does qualifies as prevarication, lying. So how can someone who does this be trusted? Why should one believe that Gore & Co. are leveling with us about climate change and global warming when Gore himself utters blatant lies like the one about whether this is political or moral/spiritual matter?

Or could it be that Gore is simply ignorant about the difference between political issues and moral/spiritual ones? Even if that is plausible, surely the guy has a huge staff of experts within his entourage, in innumerable areas of study, so one or two of them would have reached out to him with advice on how confusing his pitch is about what the clime change/global warming issues is about. Someone would certainly have told him, "Hey, Al, stop saying this is not political when it clearly is - you are advocating laws and public policies, not private decisions by people."

So I just don't buy it that Al Gore is merely misinformed about the nature of politics versus morality. No. He is evidently trying to deliberately mislead us into thinking that he isn't advocating anything that would coerce us to do one thing or another but merely giving us moral or spiritual advice.

And once this is clear, how can Gore be trusted about the rest of what he is advocating? It is far more credible that what he is after is power over our lives, power to dictate to us to behave as he judges fit. Exactly why, that is not something I am privy to. Why do dictators want to be dictators? Why do tyrants want to be tyrants? That is a vital question, but here what is crucial is that Gore seems clearly to be trying to deceive, and the consequence of the success of his deception is likely to give him immense power over other people's lives. And that is something to be resisted by us all.

ABOUT THE WRITER Tibor Machan holds the R.C. Hoiles Chair in Business Ethics & Free Enterprise at Chapman University's Argyros School of B&E and is a research fellow at the Pacific Research Institute and Hoover Institution (Stanford). He advises Freedom Communications, parent company of this newspaper. His most recent book is "Libertarianism Defended," (Ashgate, 2006). E-mail him at