McCain’s “Green Straight Talk Express” is actually the “Black Energy Twisted Action Delay Machine”

John McCain gets much credit for his Straight Talk when it comes to Global Warming, speaking tough even in the face of a Republican Party that seems determine to reject reality.  The Republican Base seems to trust their hatred of Al Gore more than what the data, science, and the weather all around us (US) say to those focused on reality-based policy-making.  McCain is on the record as to the need to invest in renewable power to deal with Global Warming, even in face of special-interest opposition.

Yet … yet … repeatedly … when given the opportunity to take action to go along with his Green Straight Talk Express, John McCain has boarded the Black Twisted Action Delay Machine and help inhibit (rather than help) a move toward an Energy Smart future.

And, when called on it, John McCain (or his staff director or ???) instructed his Senate Staff to lie about the issue.

The Green Straight Talk Express 

In December 2007, Katie Couric asked McCain about Global Warming, he emphasized renewable energy.

We need to do green technologies. Let me put it this way to you. Suppose I’m wrong, there’s no such thing as climate change, we adopt green technologies. Then we’ve just left our kids a better world. Suppose I am right and we do nothing? Then what kind of planet have we handed to our children? I’ve been involved in this effort for many years. And we’ve got to act. And unfortunately, we have not acted either as a federal government or a Congress.

And this is how the exchange continued.

Couric: Why has it taken so long, Senator?

McCain: Special interests. It’s the special interests. It’s the utility companies and the petroleum companies and other special interests. They’re the ones that have blocked progress in the Congress of the United States and the administration. That’s a little straight talk.

But did that “straight talk” lead to straight action? 

Hmmm …

The Black Twisted Action Delay Machine

Just a few days later, on 13 December 2007, the Senate voted on a measure to provide $13 billion for renewable power over the coming five years. And, that bill had provisions to pay for this: recouping unjustified tax subsidies to the big five oil companies.  The vote for cloture (to allow a simple majority vote on the measure) failed: 59-40-1.  What is that “1″?  John McCain, who couldn’t be bothered to show up to vote on the measure, assuring that “the special interests” (reminder, the mentioned “petroleum companies”) again blocked action for those “green technologies” McCain tells us he so passionately believes in deploying.

Just this past week, the Senate version of the Stimulus package had provisions for roughly $5 billion in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green jobs.  That $5.7 billion package included:

  • 1-year extension of the Production Tax Credit–$3 billion
  • Solar, fuel cell, and micro turbine investment credits–$130 million
  • Clean Renewable Energy Bonds–$400 million
  • High-efficiency appliance credits–$323 million
  • Energy efficiency credits for new homes–$61 million
  • Energy efficiency credits for home retrofits–$1.5 billion
  • Energy efficiency credits for commercial buildings–$153 million

When the vote for cloture came up on the Stimulus Package including this funding for green technologies: 59-40-1.  Do I need to tell you who was the one Senator Missing in Action?

Thus, two times around in a two month period, John McCain has a chance to be the deciding vote in favor of “green technologies” and the planet is left wanting, with John McCain missing in action.  Now, as an aside, MIA seems to be the appropriate description of John McCain’s fulfillment of the responsibilities that the American taxpayer pay him to fulfill. As per Jake Tapper of ABC,

In fact, in the 110th Congress, out of 450 votes, McCain missed 56.7% of them. The only one who missed more was a senator who had a brain hemmorhage. 

Thus, perhaps it is unfair to single out McCain being MIA on living up to his “straight talk” about green technologies since he couldn’t be bothered to show up for most votes in the Senate last year.

Getting called on the mat

McCain’s absence, when he easily could have told his chauffeur to talk him to the Hill to vote, did not go unnoticed. And, it did not go unchallenged.  The Sierra Club asked the question: Where was Senator McCain on Clean Energy?  

Update: Last night the Senate passed a version of the economic stimulus bill that did not include important clean energy incentives. While Senator McCain voted for the final version, he missed the crucial vote that would have kept the clean energy provisions in the bill.

On Wednesday, one vote prevented the Senate from advancing an economic stimulus package that included important clean energy incentives–a key addition to the package passed by the House last week. 

Call Senator McCain and ask him why he failed to show up for a vote that could have determined the future of green energy in America.

From accounts by acquaintances within the Sierra Club, this generated one of the largest turnouts that they’ve ever had to a single e-mail. From multiple sources, it sounds as if McCain’s phones were ringing off the hook, with many callers unable to reach anyone nor able to leave a message.

It also generated a response, from somewhere in the staff, to engage not in truthiness, but to deal with callers with outright dishonesty. From Carl Pope, Sierra Club’s Executive Director:

I have just listened to carefully coached staff members for Senator John McCain lie repeatedly about the Senator’s failure to show up and vote on the first Senate economic-stimulus package, which included tax incentives for clean energy. I am in a state of shock not because of the Senator’s vote, although that disappointed me, nor over his desire to avoid public accountability for that vote — that’s politics. But to carefully coach your Senate staff (I assume the Chief of Staff, not the Senator, was the author of this shameful performance) in how to mislead callers in such depth is appalling, and surprising, because it was almost certain to be found out.

Pope’s account is worth a read, in no small part for what it says about the arrogance of McCain’s Senate Office. Did they not think that someone would figure out their efforts to “lie repeatedly about the Senator’s failure to show up”.  Perhaps it is only his campaign, but not his Senate office, that has heard of “Straight Talk”.  Pope finished:

John McCain should be ashamed. Or at least his staff should. I really can’t imagine him watching his folks coached in the way they had to be for this performance.

McCain’s Green Straight Talk Express:
     Sound, Not Substance

For good reason, many find John McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” when it comes to Global Warming rather refreshing, considering that he comes from the Party of Denial and Delay.  Yet, sadly, that “Straight Talk” has not been translated to straight action.

And, the Straight Talk Express on Global Warming might be soothingly deceptive, but as per the issue of “green technologies”, it doesn’t stand up to serious scrutiny. And, it is started to get that scrutiny. 

For example, Chris Mooney just put out Hot Prospects: Climate Change and the Candidates.

when it comes to global warming McCain and the two leading Democrats aren’t perfectly interchangeable.

examine the positions of the leading presidential contenders, and differences emerge between McCain and the two Democrats which are almost as large as the difference between McCain and Mitt Romney (who has repeatedly attacked McCain over his strong stance on climate). Those differences could have dramatic implications for the future of the planet and humanity.

Joe Romm takes a look at McCain and Global Warming, in No Climate for Old Men

Sen. John McCain is the only GOP candidate who believes in the science of global warming and who has proposed specific legislation that mandates a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, especially carbon dioxide. That said, a President McCain would not be the climate leader that America and the world requires.

Romm highlights not just the issues of renewable energy, carbon targets, and other normal Global Warming discussions, but raises critical issues such as the types of Supreme Court justices he would appoint, the philosophies and governing concepts of those he would appoint to federal agencies, who would write (and enforce) regulations, and so on.  Romm finishes this strong and powerful discussion as follows:

Given the lost Bush decade, avoiding catastrophic global warming will be one of the most difficult things this country and the world has ever accomplished. Only mandated emissions reductions coupled with aggressive federal tech deployment strategies (managed by appointees who believe in climate change and those strategies) can save future generations from a ruined planet. Only strong and consistent public advocacy by the next president and his entire administration, along with Congress, can reverse the years of muzzling and misinformation of the Bush administration and its conservative allies.

McCain does not appear to be that advocate. He is a conservative who happens to be on the only intellectually defensible side of the climate change debate. But he is still a conservative, and the vast majority of the solutions to global warming are progressive in nature — they require strong government action, including major federal efforts to spur clean technology. McCain will inevitably appoint to key positions a great many conservatives who are skeptical of global warming and government-driven solutions. And he has promised to oversee the transition to a smaller government — which will be inevitable if he slashes spending in order to make the Bush tax cuts permanent while funding the Iraq war for the duration of his presidency.

McCain belongs in the Senate, where he is a rare conservative vote for action on climate change. But a President McCain is not likely to be the leader this country and the world needs to maintain the planet’s livability for our children and the next 50 generations.

While John McCain’s Green Straight Talk Express might be appealing, with his calling out of special interests and call for green technologies, but Senator McCain seems disinterested in turning his talk into reality, truly supporting a Black Energy Twisted Action Delay Machine.  

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13 responses to “McCain’s “Green Straight Talk Express” is actually the “Black Energy Twisted Action Delay Machine”

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