Now, the predictable response to my caterwauling is that I just don't get it. Of course, Bob Costas' Dickensian studio lighting is just so much symbolism. But, they respond, NBC is "raising consciousness" and promoting "awareness." We've heard this tone before, perhaps starting in high school, when we were told, "If we all work together, we can make this the best yearbook ever!"
And that's why, on top of all the other reasons, Green Week - and the Green Millennium it hopes to usher in - is so annoying. It plays us all for suckers. First of all, you have enormously rich people at fantastically wealthy corporations seeking grace on the cheap with a few symbolic gestures that come at absolutely no cost, and often considerable profit.
You do know that the parent company of NBC is General Electric, right? You do know that for GE, green is first and foremost the color of money, right? As Tim Carney explains in vivid detail in his wonderful book, "The Big Ripoff," GE's "ecomagination" campaign is simultaneously a way to brand itself as a "progressive" company and a means of shaking the money tree - the most sustainable planting of them all - growing in Congress' backyard.
When the global company launched the ecomagination campaign, guess where it held the launch party? Its D.C. lobbying office, of course.
While sipping from wine made at a solar-powered winery, the head of GE, Jeffrey Immelt, proclaimed, "Industry cannot solve the problems of the world alone. We need to work in concert with government." Translation: The King Kong of the corporate world needs tax breaks, subsidies and favorable regulations in order to make green technology profitable. Indeed, GE has nearly cornered the market on the solar panels necessary to implement Kyoto-style reforms. Global warming hysteria is good for its bottom line.
Liberals and environmentalists love to whine about special breaks for corporations, and they work themselves into paroxysms of paranoia about how big corporations propagandize against action on climate change. The reality is exactly the opposite. GE, DuPont, British Petroleum and countless other big corporations routinely propagandize in the other direction, largely to win governmental support they don't need. But so long as environmentalists approve of the message, they've got no problem whatsoever with the messengers.