The solution: run the 32-bit version!
Running Google Earth from the terminal, you will more than likely get something like this:
[0424/142332:ERROR:net_util.cc(2195)] Not implemented reached in bool net::HaveOnlyLoopbackAddresses()
[0424/142334:ERROR:nss_ocsp.cc(581)] No URLRequestContext for OCSP handler.
Google Earth has caught signal 11.
As it turns out, the 64-bit version of Google Earth relies on ia32-libs, a package that has been deprecated since 11.10; Ubuntu introduced multiarch as a replacement, and Google Earth has not yet caught up.
sudo apt-get remove google-earth-stable
Download and install the 32-bit version. Everything should now work!