Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is an avowed climate science believer who comes from a state with enough solar resource to power the entire nation. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is an avowed climate science denier who comes from a major oil patch state.
So why has McCain voted with Inhofe and against clean energy and the environment a staggering 42 out of 44 times since the mid-1990s? And that doesn’t even include eight straight votes on extending the renewable energy tax credits that McCain missed in the last year, where he would have sided with Inhofe and against a clean energy future.
The answer is that “Few politicians in history have more successfully sold a phony image about caring for the environment than Sen. John McCain” — which is the central point of my new Salon piece, “John McCain’s hot air.” The facts are clear: McCain is at best an out-of-touch greenwasher and at worst simply a pathological liar.
For instance, at an Aspen Institute meeting in August, when McCain was asked about those missed votes, he simply lied to the audience:
I have a long record of that support of alternate energy. I come from a state where we have sunshine 360 days a year … I’ve always been for all of those and I have not missed any crucial vote.
As for McCain’s “long record of that support of alternate energy,” consider the votes on renewable energy funding and a federal “renewable portfolio standard” (RPS) that he did show up for this decade:
- Tax credits for clean energy R&D (2001)
- Require a 20 percent RPS where utilities buy 20 percent clean energy (’02)
- Reduce 20 percent RPS requirement (’02)
- Waive 20 percent RPS if utilities balk (’02)
- Increase clean energy R&D funding (’05)
- Clean energy incentives (’05)
- An RPS to require utilities [to] buy some clean energy (’05)
- Tax oil companies windfall profits to fund clean energy (’05)
In every case, McCain voted against renewables, as did James “Global warming is ‘the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people'” Inhofe. On the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the biggest congressional effort to push alternative energy in more than a decade, McCain voted against it along with just 11 other senators. Even Inhofe voted for it.
As for, “I have not missed any crucial vote,” how about these two — just in the past 12 months:
On Dec. 13, 2007, the Senate was considering a bill to spend $13 billion on renewable power over five years. The cloture vote to allow the amendment to be brought to the Senate floor required 60 votes; it received 59 for, 40 against, and one senator absent. Yes, you guessed it: No McCain. A spokesman later said “he would not have supported breaking the filibuster.”
Again, in February, the Senate tried to include in a stimulus package an extension of the renewable tax credit, plus nearly $3 billion more for alternate energy. The cloture vote again failed 59-40-1. And again, McCain’s absence didn’t kill an unpopular alternative energy bill — it stopped a popular bill from even coming to a vote.
So McCain missed two absolutely crucial votes and long opposed alternative energy. Yet if you watch the Aspen video, McCain seems so earnest, so genuine. He does, after all, “come from a state where we have sunshine 360 days a year.” Who could believe such a person could ever be so steadfastly opposed to solar power, that such a person could be an eco-Luddite who believes “The truly clean technologies don’t work“?
McCain is either a very practiced liar who can fake sincerity, a pathological liar who believes his own lies, or a man with simply no memory of key events even a few months ago.
Either way, at this point, it is impossible to believe anything that John McCain says. The only thing dirtier than McCain’s lies is his environmental record.
Check out the full Salon piece here.