I'm using Ubuntu 12.04 (64-bit) and this problem only occurs with Unity. If I log in as GNOME then Google Earth runs fine.
My video card is: Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti
with the latest proprietary Nvidia driver.
There are no error messages that appear when I run Google Earth in Unity - what happens is Google Earth immediately closes when you open it under Unity, nothing else.
It does seem that Unity affects other programs which use video heavily e.g. Wine: