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Election 2012

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No end in sight for the GOP’s holiday-from-reality primaries

Please, someone: make it stop!

There was a brief window of hope a couple of days ago that Mitt Romney's victories in Tuesday's "Super" set of primaries would be potent enough to sweep the field of his rivals and allow him, finally, to don that front-runner mantle he has been lunging for all season. But as the dust clears from tonight's mixed bag of primary results -- including a late-night squeaker of an Ohio win for Romney -- it's apparent that his campaign still has a long run ahead of it.

That's reason for green-minded people to add their own laments to the wails of Romney's ardent supporters. No, there's little reason to believe Romney's a closet climate hawk. But his latest failure to close the deal with his own party does mean that we're going to spend another few months arguing about God and contraceptives instead of talking about how to fix the big fails in our future.

On some level, of course, progressives and environmentalists can't help taking some satisfaction in the Republican Party's internecine bloodletting. The joke always used to be that Democratic primaries were circular firing squads, whereas the disciplined GOP obeyed Maximum Leader Reagan's "eleventh commandment" not to attack one another.

Forgive them, Ronald, for this year, they have sinned a whole lot.

But schadenfreude only gets you so far. While the Republican race hogs the headlines and eats up the news cycles, it's not as though the real problems facing our next president, whoever it is, are politely pausing in their tracks.

The national debates we need to hold won't wait. How do we accomplish the shift away from fossil fuels that we've known we're going to have to make at least since the 1970s? How do we build an economy that isn't stuck in the boom-bust cycle of an unsustainable perpetual-growth machine? How do we agree on a set of basic services worth supporting with our taxes, and how do we make sure those taxes are shared more fairly?

The Republican candidates won't discuss these issues on their own as long as they're still competing for the favor of their party's radicals. It's high time this silly season of deficit-inflating tax cuts, Iran-nuke scare-mongering and $2.50-a-gallon gasoline-price pandering draws to its close.

Each week that Romney fails to clinch his nomination is another week of wasted rhetoric and delayed reckoning. Despite their lack of enthusiasm for their front-runner, Republicans know deep down that he's the only candidate they've got with even a remote shot at unseating President Obama. There isn't going to be a late-entrant upset. There isn't going to be a brokered convention. Sarah Palin is not going to descend from the proscenium on the back of a polar bear and rescue her adoring flock.

So come on, red America: Can't we get on with it already?

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Does Romney secretly support ‘climate-change controls’?

Julian Robertson is betting than Romney really cares about the climate.

Cross-posted from ThinkProgress Green.

Mitt Romney's top individual donor is Environmental Defense Fund board member Julian H. Robertson Jr., who has given $1.3 million to the Romney super PAC Restore Our Future even though Romney has viciously attacked the climate cap-and-trade policies EDF supports. A spokesperson for the hedge-fund billionaire said Robertson is confident Romney would "do the right thing" if elected:

In terms of the environment and climate-change controls, which [Robertson] does believe is one of the most important issues the country and the world faces, he has confidence that Romney, once he’s in there, will do the right thing.

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Obama calls to end subsidies for oil and gas

Obama in Nashua in 2007.

With prospective GOP challengers hawking guarantees of Seinfeld-era gas prices, President Obama simultaneously called their bluff on what he called "phony election-year promises" and urged Congress to end $4 billion in subsidies for oil and gas companies. Sure, he's said it before (most recently in his State of the Union address), but at a stop in Nashua Community College in New Hampshire, Obama put some muscle behind it:

“You can either stand up for the oil companies, or you can stand up for the American people,” Mr. Obama said. “You can keep subsidizing a fossil fuel that’s been getting taxpayer dollars for a century, or you can place your bets on a clean-energy future.”

It took GOP bigwigs approximately four nanoseconds to respond that the president's move could make oil costs go even higher, while John Boehner needled him over what he perceived to be a reluctance to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (which also might not lower costs or stop our Bubbles-esque problems with oil). White House Press Secretary Jay Carney didn't address whether Obama would tap into the reserve, but affirmed the president was "very concerned" about the pump-fatigued American family.

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Watch Republicans try valiantly to be funny by mocking Chevy Volt

Aw, look, they're trying to make jokes! I'm going to print this right out and hang it on the fridge in a frame that says My First Satire.

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Newt’s new energy slogan doubles down on the crazy

It's not clear who Newt Gingrich thinks he's fooling, but over the weekend his team unveiled this nifty new graphic on which he apparently plans to hang the entirety of his comeback for the GOP nomination, and KQED political reporter John Myers was there to capture it:

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Flashback: Gingrich opposed ANWR drilling, pushed for efficiency instead

Newt GingrichGingrich, explaining that he didn't mean all that stuff he said back in the '80s.

Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign is dead in the water and he is soon to return to richly deserved obscurity, where he can spend his time consulting for banks and swindling gullible right-wingers out of their money. So it's important for those of us who love mocking him to act quickly.

On that note, I would direct your attention to this 1995 open letter to Gingrich from then-Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope. Gingrich had just taken over as speaker of the House and Pope was eager to remind him of his environmentalist principles. Yes, really.

It seems that, from 1984 to 1990, Gingrich was a member of the Sierra Club. And he filled out the questionnaire that the Club sends to all politicians. Here are some of the results, from Pope's letter:

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Does Santorum think the pope is a ‘radical environmentalist’?

Rick Santorum and Pope Benedict"Who you callin' radical?" (Photos by Gage Skidmore and Catholic Church, England and Wales)

Rick Santorum presents himself as a devout Catholic, and he certainly holds fast to the church's line against birth control. But on the issue of climate change, he's more than happy to stray from the pope's teachings. Here's what Santorum had to say at a campaign event on Feb. 6:

[Climate change is] an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who, in my opinion, saw this as an opportunity to create a panic and a crisis for government to be able to step in and even more greatly control your life. ... I for one never bought the hoax.

Pope Benedict XVI has been consistent and clear [PDF] in saying that global leaders need to confront the challenge of climate change. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, also called for climate action, as have many other leaders within the church hierarchy. Last year, the Vatican issued a report warning about the "serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases."

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Why all promises to make gas significantly cheaper are fantasies

It speaks to the gross ignorance of the overwhelming majority of Americans -- or else the deep cynicism of our politicians -- that we even have to address this, but for the nth time ever, here we go!

Unless the world economy crashes or intercessory prayer starts working, no one on the planet has the power to significantly lower the price of gasoline at the pump. Especially not Newt Gingrich.

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Ask to grind: Your questions for presidential candidates

Hey, presidential wannabes: Can you hear us now?

The next GOP presidential debate is nigh, and as Lisa Hymas wrote last week, we’re tired of gabbing about the Moon. Past debate questions haven’t cut it: Only two out of 839 questions asked at presidential debates last year involved climate change, and the rest of the questions focused mostly on survey data and campaign strategy (nodding off yet?). Where are the questions that really matter? More specifically: Where are the climate questions?

So before the GOP debate in Arizona, we turned to savvy Grist readers to help us cut through the political hackery and ask the burning questions that really need answering. (We're partnering with the Guardian and other news outlets in this effort.) Turns out you’re ready to grill the candidates on clean energy, fracking, public health, and more.

Reader Rebecca Thistlethwaite sums it up nicely: “When are you going to give a shit about the world our grandchildren are going to inherit?” Exactly.

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Santorum campaign can’t tell the difference between environmentalism and Islam

Rick Santorum said this weekend that President Obama believed in a "phony theology," sparking concerns that he was publicly denying that the president is a Christian. Of course we're talking about the guy who thinks mainline Protestants aren't really Christian, so this would hardly be a surprise, but there's been so much ugliness surrounding the subject of Obama's religion that these would clearly be fightin' words. Which explains why Santorum press secretary Alice Stewart snapped into action, clarifying on MSNBC that Santorum was merely referring to the president's "radical Islamic policies." Oh, well. OK then.

An hour later she called back to say that she meant radical environmental policies. Man, I always get those two confused! 

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