May 22, 2009
House GOP: All Hat, No Cattle on Energy
As a fellow blogger wrote today, the minority on the House Energy & Commerce led by "Smokey Joe" Barton of Texas (R-Big Oil) turned out to be all hat and no cattle when it came to stopping the comprehensive clean energy jobs plan that passed the committee 33-25 last evening. But that of course didn't stop them from raising a ruckus in the meantime.
With energy perhaps the only issue Dick Cheney hasn't come out of the woodwork to address, Barton and his fellow conservatives on the committee (save Mary Bono Mack of California, the sole Republican who voted for the plan) are picking up the slack when it comes to continuing the push for the Big Oil, Dirty Coal, and nuke-driven Dick Cheney energy policy.
The "week in fruitloopery," as Grist's Dave Roberts christened it, began in earnest last Friday when the Republicans cooked up 450 poison pill amendments to stall the committee markup process. Joe Barton then went on tv to declare that E&C Chairman Waxman "didn't have the nuts" to pass his clean energy plan. Moving from poker to the puerile, Barton then declared that round about today we'd see who had whom by the nuts.
Apparently eager to top his previous performances during hearings on the clean energy plan, Barton took to the airwaves on C-SPAN earlier this week to share some pearls of wisdom. He first said we shouldn't regulate carbon dioxide because it's in "it's in your Coca-Cola, you're Dr. Pepper, your Perrier water." (Who knew they had such elitist pretensions as Perrier in the Lone Star state?) He then upped the ante further when he said that because CO2 is natural, well, "you can't regulate God. Not even the Democratic majority in the US Congress can regulate God." These and other comments combined to result in Barton somehow managing to sound even crazier than the Washignton Journal callers--no small feat as anyone who has watched 5 minutes of C-SPAN can tell you.
Barton was joined by some of the usual suspects in his crusade to derail the markup, including Rep. John 'clean energy legislation is worse than 9/11 and both wars' Shimkus (R-Peabody Coal). Shimkus echoed Barton's sentiments, saying that CO2 couldn't possibly be toxic, as we breathe it out. Duh!
In the confusion around the adoption of the GOP's new strategy of pretending to be on the side of people instead of polluting mega-corporations, the memo (and yes, there really was a memo) apparently didn't make it to Shimkus who proudly declared "corporate titans are my friends."
Other haters included Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who compared national energy efficiency standards for appliances to a "global warming gestapo." Mmmmkay, I was unaware that depriving your space heater of the right to run up your electricity bill was an assault on liberty, but whatever.
There were laughs of another kind when the speed reader the Democrats hired in case Barton made them read the entire 900+ page bill aloud (not that that's ever happened with a global warming bill or anything) was brought out for comedic effect yesterday. Brought back some treasured childhood memories of that Micro Machines dude.
Finally, after the bill passed last night, Joe Barton had a little pity party for himself, declaring that "it's not a lot of fun" for conservatives to lose over and over again.
Speak for yourself Smokey Joe!