McCain DisDain: truthiness on the energy/global warming fronts

(6 pm. – promoted by Magnifico)

The ‘town hall’ debate actually merits a kudo, amid its problems: there were actually serious questions about energy and global warming, including a direction mention of green jobs.  

In the debate, Barack Obama consistently reiterated that energy is a top-tier issue, linking it to financial, environmental, and international security challenges.  Obama spoke of energy in holistic terms, speaking from individuals to nation/globe, about producing power and seeking energy efficiency, about … Obama sounded like he understood what he was talking about and that he has a plan for solving multiple problems at the same time when it comes to energy.

John McCain also emphasized energy, but his comments were filled with incomplete, disingenuous, and non-truthful elements continuing a sad tradition by both John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Working from the CNN transcript.

[McCain] Now, I have a plan to fix this problem and it has got to do with energy independence. We’ve got to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t want us very — like us very much.

Okay, John, what plan?  You’ve got a few pages of talking points, with an absence of any real details.

Drilling and nuclear power?  Let us face facts, no matter what we think about ‘all of the above’, these two aren’t going to provide energy independence within the coming few decades.

We can work on nuclear power plants. Build a whole bunch of them, create millions of new jobs. We have to have all of the above, alternative fuels, wind, tide, solar, natural gas, clean coal technology. All of these things we can do as Americans and we can take on this mission and we can overcome it.

My friends, some of this $700 billion ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations.

Let us face facts: John McCain has a clear record when it comes to renewable energy and that record is one of non-support. (See McCain’s 50 votes against renewable power)

McCain is right about some of the $700 billion ending up in the hands of terrorists. Sadly, John McCain is offering a path that will reduce the flow of those funds very minimally.

Many of the these questions were, on reflection, quite good.  I had three favorites: asking what sacrifice either would ask of the American people; what their weaknesses were and how they would fill them; and this one:

I want to know, we saw that Congress moved pretty fast in the face of an economic crisis. I want to know what you would do within the first two years to make sure that Congress moves fast as far as environmental issues, like climate change and green jobs?

And, in response to this, the McCain truthiness machine went into overdrive.

But when we can — when we have an issue that we may hand our children and our grandchildren a damaged planet, I have disagreed strongly with the Bush administration on this issue. I traveled all over the world looking at the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, Joe Lieberman and I.

And I introduced the first legislation, and we forced votes on it. That’s the good news, my friends. The bad news is we lost. But we kept the debate going, and we kept this issue to — to posing to Americans the danger that climate change poses.

Okay, there was the McCain-Lieberman climate change bill.  And, John McCain has been a rare voice of a senior Republican politician speaking out on Global Warming.

But, there was a bill that went to the Senate floor this year. Despite its inadequacies, McCain would not support the Lieberman-Warner Coal Subsidy Act this year, decrying this inadequate bill as too forceful.

Now, how — what’s — what’s the best way of fixing it? Nuclear power.

No matter what one thinks about nuclear power, there is a simple fact: Nuclear power cannot be “the answer”.  We cannot build plants fast enough.  We need to be turning things around NOW if we want to avert the worst of catastrophic climate change. It takes years (a decade) to get a nuclear power plant on line. Don’t expect many before 2020.

John McCain is calling for 45 new nuclear power plants to be put in 2030.

We currently have 104 nuclear power plants that provide 19.4% of US electricity.

The Department of Energy projects that electricity demand will grow about 25 percent by 2030.

While the plants will be larger, the 45 plants will represent about 15 percent of today’s electricity.

In other words, John McCain’s strongly promoted nuclear power won’t even keep up with increased demand, let alone eliminate coal-fired electricity.

We can move forward, and clean up our climate, and develop green technologies, and alternate — alternative energies for — for hybrid, for hydrogen, for battery-powered cars, so that we can clean up our environment and at the same time get our economy going by creating millions of jobs.

Here are some words that I can agree with.

“We can move forward” and we must.

“We can … clean up our climate” with a very serious effort, perhaps even calling for soem of that sacrifice that was asked about.

“We can … develop green technologies” and must.

And, absolutely, “we can clean up our environment and, at the same time, get our economy going …”  

Yes, John McCain, it truly is the environment and the economy, not environment vs the economy.

As McCain stressed so heavily during the debate, “look at the record”.  Quite, McCain’s record in these sets of issues is disingenuous and falling backwards.  (Should we mention selecting Sarah Energy Expert Palin, who is a global warming denier?)

Very simply: when it comes to Global Warming, John McCain is failing his own test.

Brokaw asked a follow-on question:

Should we fund a Manhattan-like project that develops a nuclear bomb to deal with global energy and alternative energy or should we fund 100,000 garages across America, the kind of industry and innovation that developed Silicon Valley?

This is an either / or that is inappropriate, on multiple levels.  But …

I think pure research and development investment on the part of the United States government is certainly appropriate. I think once it gets into productive stages, that we ought to, obviously, turn it over to the private sector.

Lets have lots of research and delay real action.

But, lets have some real truthiness:

on oil drilling, oil drilling offshore now is vital so that we can bridge the gap. We can bridge the gap between imported oil, which is a national security issue, as well as any other, and it will reduce the price of a barrel of oil, because when people know there’s a greater supply, then the cost of that will go down.

That’s fundamental economics. We’ve got to drill offshore, my friends, and we’ve got to do it now, and we can do it.

This is simply drillusion and not fact as McCain continues his campaign’s lies about energy issues..  Dealt with time after time on this pages, with T Boone Pickens and other Republican oil men calling it absurd.

NOTE: Others are highlighting the notable nature and importance of Ingrid Jackson’s question. For example, Bill McKibben,, with Above average:  Savvy citizen asks the right question about climate change at debate.


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    • RiaD on October 8, 2008 at 17:18

    Thank YOU!


  1. can be used as a limited bridging strategy, at worst nuclear can be a disaster — wasted capital and energy for very limited, if any return.

    The nuclear power proliferation that Sarkozy is doing is something that is going to cause problems for the West for years to come. I agree with Al Gore when he reasons:

    [Gore] responded that reactor programs lead to weapons of mass destruction, citing Iran and a proliferation of country with the technology.  “If we do not move forward [with nuclear energy], it will less likely be available in other parts of the world,” Gore said. “I am not entirely sanguine about the flow of nuclear power,” he said, voicing concerns about WMD.

    I think McCain’s insistence on the “miracle” of nuclear power has more to do with his coziness with corporate American with centralized power, than a distributed system of smaller wind energy producers.

    Over at ET, Jerome has a brief essay up, Let’s do wind, featuring some graphs showing wind and nuclear roughly the same in investment and far better in power capacity.

    Nuclear isn’t a sustainable, renewable energy option for our future. I joke that the only green thing about nuclear power is the radioactive glow.


    And realize that we have a permission to use energy problem and not really an energy problem.  Ghandi for all his peaceful protest was ultimately “rewarded” with call centers and the Chinese industrial gold rush was enabled by their carbon emission exemptness.  No there will be no Manhattan energy project just a re-allocation of what energy you used to use to other “profit” centers of global commerce.

    I can watch neither McCain or Obama as both of them come across, to me at least, as Baptist Bible thumpers speaking in tongues, cult leaders speaking to the dumbed down masses.


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