As good as that news may seem for Democrats and liberals, there is a downside to all of this -- lame ducks have nothing to lose. Given the prospects of two Democrat-controlled branches in '09, there is no consequence at the ballot box for serving your home constituency poorly. When you're going to lose no matter what, you're free to serve your national constituency -- and, for the GOP, that's corporations.
As a result of this lemonade-from-electoral-lemons calculus, we find ourselves in the middle of a propaganda push that may be rivaled only by the BS campaign that drove us into Iraq. And, like that Iraq hard sell, the underlying subject is oil or, more specifically, serving oil companies. Faced with record high gas prices (mostly as a result of their idiotic policies), Republicans see an opportunity. They've put forth an energy plan that can be summed up in one word, "drill." And, to get those drills spinning, they've begun a campaign of the purest, most refined BS.
To support the Big Oil agenda of increased offshore drilling, conservatives have been telling the American public that there weren’t any major spills caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita for an entire month. The following video shows Sen. McCain (R-AZ), Wall Street Journal writer Stephen Moore, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer, former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), and Sen. McCain (again).
All of these people are polluter-funded, from McCain on down. As Idaho governor, Kempthorne served the interests of the energy industries that funded him. Nancy Pfotenhauer was the top D.C. lobbyist for the right-wing energy company Koch Industries, and Lott is now a lobbyist for Chevron, Shell, and the Edison Chouest Offshore drilling rig company. Stephen Moore, like Pfotenhauer, received his economics degree from George Mason University, before working at the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, then founding the Club for Growth and the Free Enterprise Fund. George Mason, Heritage, and the Cato Institute are all funded by Koch money.
Of course, there have been oil spills. A lot of them. In fact, New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici was told -- on FOX News of all places -- the exact number. When foxbot Elizabeth MacDonald told him that "a lot of oil spills occurred on those oil platforms" following hurricanes Rita and Katrina, Domenici told her, "Not so! Not so! Don’t [let] 'em give you that baloney. There were none!"
MacDonald answered, "No, there were 124."
Undaunted, Domenici later peddled the Republican propaganda line that China's drilling off Cuba. Again, MacDonald corrected him again. But, in the end, this is FOX. After an interview filled with lies, MacDonald closed the segment with "We’re about telling the truth on this network, and that’s why we want you to come back."
If you're hearing bitter laughter, that's me.
McClatchy Newspapers tells us, "Senate Republicans have dropped the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from their energy policy discussions, focusing instead on persuading Democrats to lift a moratorium on offshore drilling." The length of the fight over ANWR took a toll on the Republican position. In the long debate, they lost ground to reality and a stiff opposition from citizen and environmental groups. They seem to be determined not to allow that to happen in the offshore drilling debate -- like the pre-invasion non-debate about Iraq, they're trying to shove the issue forward with lies and a phony sense of urgency. "Now, now, now!!" is the basic message.
But, if the problem of high gas prices is an urgent one, offshore drilling isn't anything close to a solution. "If we were to drill today, realistically speaking, we should not expect a barrel of oil coming out of this new resource for three years, maybe even five years, so let's not kid ourselves," Fadel Gheit, oil and gas analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. Equity Capital Markets Division, told CNN Monday. Need lower gas prices? Offshore drilling isn't the answer.
But if the GOP has put ANWR lower on the list of priorities, they haven't given up on it entirely. And, since they're the BS propaganda-driven modern Republican party, the main tool in that fight is untruth as well. House Republicans plan a trip to ANWR and House Majority Leader John Boehner used the occasion to tell a ridiculous lie. "We’re going to look at this barren, Arctic desert where I’m hoping to see some wildlife," Boehner told reporters. "But I understand there’s none there."
That's right, Boehner would have us believe that there's no wildlife at a national wildlife refuge. I'm torn on whether this is hilarious or infuriating. I guess it's both; hilarious in its absurdity and infuriatingly insulting to my intelligence. It's like telling someone there aren't any animals at the zoo. If you ever need an example of just how stupid Republicans think voters are, just point people Boehner's way -- he thinks you're a freakin' moron.
Think Progress tells us, "Boehner would likely be less skeptical if he just visited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website for the the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which notes that it is 'renowned for its wildlife' and is inhabited by 45 species of land and marine mammals, 36 species of fish and 180 species of birds. View photos of some of the wildlife here."
How ridiculous is it that TP has to prove there are wildlife at a wildlife refuge? But if the ANWR lies are amazingly shameless and jawdroppingly crazy, the lies about offshore drilling are no better. You'd think they were unaware of the idea that facts can be verified and lies can be disproved. And no Republican seems to be above telling these lies, even the "straight talker," John McCain. In a speech to Houston oilmen, McCain told the audience, "As for offshore drilling, it’s safe enough these days that not even Hurricanes Katrina and Rita could cause significant spillage from the battered rigs off the coasts of New Orleans and Houston."
You could say he wasn't actually lying to his audience -- after all, they were oil industry bigwigs, they knew it wasn't true and McCain didn't expect them to believe it. No, McCain was lying on behalf of his audience -- to the TV cameras and newspaper reporters covering the event and, in turn, to you at home. Straight talkin' John McCain lied to you that day. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last.
And that's because even McCain has nothing to lose. He may not win the presidency, but he's not going to lose his senate seat. In fact, there's a good chance that this is the last election campaign he'll ever run. After November, expect a few announcements of retirements, as GOP Senators and Representatives are unwilling to spend the last few years of their careers fighting hopeless and losing battles to overwhelming Democratic majorities. It's too much work, too little pay. They'll do what they always do -- move into the industries they actually represent and become high-powered lobbyists -- or retire for good and all.
As I said, this may be the biggest BS campaign since the pre-Iraq propaganda push. Like that campaign, it's a complete fabrication designed to push an agenda that serves only the wealthy and the corporations. It won't do a damned thing for you.
Technorati tags: politics; environment; gas; gas prices; propaganda; Pete Domenici; John Boehner; ANWR; offshore drilling; John McCain and the Republican party don't serve you, they serve oil