Chamber of Horrors
You’d think the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wouldn’t have much free time on its hands these days, what with the raging debate over permanent normal trade relations for China. But the industry-friendly group recently managed to cobble together a charming volume called The Environmentalists’ Little Green Book, a compendium of off-the-wall quotes and blistering bon mots from various environmental luminaries and lesser-knowns.
The slim 47-page booklet begins with this from Sierra Club founder John Muir: “Man is always and everywhere a blight on the landscape.”
Next is a quote from former Earth First! Journal editor John Davis: “Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs.”
Here’s our favorite, from something called “Dear Ned Ludd” in the Earth First! Journal: “Torching the buildings and equipment of the corporate bastards who are raping the Earth and exploiting animals should always be done with a supreme reverence for all living beings.”
And so it goes from there, divided into sections that include “Hatred of Humans,” “Environmentalism as a Religion,” and “Bye-Bye Business.”
There is also a helpful “Source Information” section listing the provenance of each quote. Muckraker didn’t have time to go through each utterance and check it for veracity (or context), so we’re depending on you to let us know of any misquotes — email to email@example.com.
(We can tell you that the quotation from Grist, culled from a diary entry by Surfrider Foundation Communications Director John Hoskinson, was indeed accurate, though the Chamber didn’t fully convey his tongue-in-cheek wit.)
Al Gore is only quoted once in the book (on the dangers of the internal combustion engine), though Chamber official Bill Kovachs said they would have liked to include more juicy statements from the veep.
“Gore was hard,” Kovachs said. “We looked at Earth in the Balance and it had about 25 quotes we wanted to use. But to get within the page limits, the quotes had to be about 15 to 20 words and we couldn’t use any of Gore’s and be accurate because his sentences would sometimes go on for something like five or six lines.” Gore saved by his long-windedness!
The Chamber printed some 5,000 copies of the $6.95 book (at a total cost of around $5,000) and has sold about 3,000 so far, with the bulk of the sales coming after the book got a mention on G. Gordon Liddy‘s radio show.
Kovachs said his organization modeled the publication after Chairman Mao‘s “Little Red Book” and intended it to be a “parody” of enviro groups in the wake of the trade protests last year in Seattle.
In reality, of course, the Chamber takes issues surrounding the environment and global trade “very seriously.”
Seabright Between the Lines
Last week’s reader challenge to translate a press release announcing that Texaco was hiring Jeff Seabright, former executive director of the White House Task Force on Climate Change, brought a flood of clever (and often bitter) responses. A sampling:
From Scott Milano: “We are going to be paying him the GDP of several Third World countries in order to come up with better bulls**t about why we’re not such bad guys after all.”
From Dan Griffiths: “Seabright will co-opt everybody so that nobody criticizes our policy — whatever it turns out to be. After that, he will help us figure out what the policy means.”
From Anonymous: “If you see a new Texaco ad campaign, ‘Global Warming Is Good For You Or At Least Not As Bad As It Could Be And You’ll Be Dead Before It Gets Too Bad,’ he probably worked on it. Or maybe ‘Fuel Economy Leads to More Highway Deaths.'”
From Daniel Johnson: “Mr. Seabright will be responsible for overseeing the funneling of large amounts of Texaco money into the coffers of elected officials. He will also give Texaco insight into government environmental policy at a critical time when global pressure is building on Texaco and other major corporate polluters to clean up their acts. In exchange for this valuable service, Mr. Seabright will be handsomely rewarded with a generous compensation package that includes millions of dollars in annual pay, stock options, and severance pay, and he will personally get to dynamite a wetland.”
Meanwhile, on the Shores of the Mid-Atlantic …
The Muckraker tour of this year’s hot political contests now heads to the Mid-Atlantic states.
Delaware: Usually quiet, this tiny state features a major Senate race this year as Gov. Tom Carper (D) looks to dethrone Republican incumbent William Roth, powerful chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
Polls actually show Carper slightly ahead of the 78-year-old Roth — this could be one of the Democrats’ best chances to pick up a seat. Roth, while generally friendly to industry, is not exactly loathed by enviros. He received a 38 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters in 1998.
Carper’s run for Senate leaves an open gubernatorial seat. Democrats have settled on Lt. Gov. Ruth Ann Minner as a candidate, while Republicans are holding a Sept. 9 primary between former Chamber of Commerce President John Burris and William Swain Lee, the judge who presided over a high-profile murder trial involving two former Carper aides.
Maryland: Snooze city in the Chesapeake Bay State this fall. Only Connie Morella, a moderate Republican in the Democrat-heavy Washington suburbs, should face any challenge, and Morella is a seasoned pro at winning crossover votes.
New Jersey: The Garden State is classic swing-voter country, and both Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Gore are promising to wage concerted campaigns here. Gore may run into some trouble with Jersey enviros who don’t appreciate his squishiness on a proposed Meadowlands mall project that would destroy 90 acres of wetlands or his failure thus far to push the EPA to come out with strict rules on what sort of dredging material can be dumped in coastal waters.
Beyond the presidential level, New Jersey has a barn burner of a Senate race going on with competitive June 6 primaries in both parties. Democrats must choose between wealthy former Wall Street executive Jon Corzine and longtime party regular and former governor Jim Florio. Most give the edge to Corzine, who has spared no expense on the race and does not carry the political baggage of Florio, who presided over a major tax increase during his tenure as governor.
Florio has made an issue of the environment in his campaign, attacking suburban sprawl and promising to support creation of a national forest in the Highlands in the northwestern portion of the state.
The Republicans have a four-way battle going on with Rep. Bob Franks, state Sen. Bill Gormley, and Essex County Executive Jim Treffinger leading the way.
The race to replace Franks is one of two hot House contests in New Jersey and there are crowded primaries on both sides for the mostly suburban 7th district seat.
The other House battle will take place in New Jersey’s 12th district, which consists of several counties on the U.S. 1 corridor. This district leans Republican and the GOP is eager to take it back from freshman Rep. Rush Holt (D), who won it last time around after incumbent Mike Pappas made the unwise move of singing a song of praise (a dumb one at that) to then-independent counsel Kenneth Starr from the House floor.
The trouble for the GOP in the 12th district is that both Pappas and former Rep. Dick Zimmer, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1996, want the seat back. An expensive and divisive primary is likely to help Holt, but this will nonetheless be a serious battle.
North Carolina: The primaries have come and gone here and a tight gubernatorial contest is shaping up between Republican Richard Vinroot, the former mayor of Charlotte, and Democrat Mike Easley, the state’s attorney general.
Both candidates are politically moderate so clear differences over environmental issues, such as growth management for Charlotte and Raleigh, are unlikely to develop. Easley was not the top choice of North Carolina enviros, many of whom supported Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker in the primary.
Democrats hope to knock out Rep. Robin Hayes (R) in the state’s 8th congressional district in the south-central portion of the state along I-85. Hayes will once again face attorney Mike Taylor (D), who narrowly lost in 1998. This is a top Democratic target, but Hayes will have ample resources and an increasingly Republican district behind him.
Pennsylvania: Like New Jersey, this is among the most important of general election states and whichever presidential candidate picks up its 23 electoral votes is likely to be heading to the White House next January. The state’s governor, Tom Ridge, currently resides at the top of the list of potential Bush running mates.
The state will also feature a good Senate race, with Democrats and environmentalists foaming at the mouth at the thought of defeating Republican incumbent Rick Santorum. Santorum is in fact vulnerable, but Rep. Ron Klink, the Democratic nominee, is currently short of cash.
Democrats also face a problem in filling Klink’s seat in the state’s 4th district. The Republican nominee, state Sen. Melissa Hart, is now favored for the spot over state Rep. Terry Van Horne, who was not the Democrats’ first choice and has some controversial racial remarks in his background.
The other good race in Pennsylvania will take place in the 13th district, where state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R) will attempt to unseat freshman Democrat Joe Hoeffel in what is expected to be among the closest races in the nation.
Virginia: Democratic Sen. Charles Robb will get yet another run for his money this year. After narrowly fighting off Oliver North in 1994, Robb draws an even tougher opponent in conservative former Virginia Gov. George Allen (R). Most polls show Allen leading at this stage and many consider Robb the underdog, an unusual position for an incumbent.
The environmental community is obviously concerned about this race, as the Sierra Club has already run ads criticizing Allen’s record. No change in the partisan makeup of Virginia’s House delegation is expected.
West Virginia: There’s a good governor’s race in the Mountaineer State, home to mountaintop-removal mining and other contentious environmental issues. Republican Gov. Cecil Underwood, 77, is looking to hang on for another term against Rep. Bob Wise, who was not the enviro of choice in the Democratic primary. The Sierra Club endorsed attorney Jim Lees over Wise earlier this month, citing Lees’s lengthy record of support for green issues.
Though House races in West Virginia are rarely competitive, Wise’s run for governor actually makes for a good one this year. House Speaker Dennis Hastert was in Charleston recently to campaign for Shelley Moore Capito, whom Republicans think has an excellent shot to break the Democratic lock on the state’s congressional delegation. Capito will have to get beat former state Sen. Jim Humphrey to get to Washington, however, in a state that leans heavily Democratic.