As global warming becomes a more and more salient political issue (thanks, Al!), Bush gets asked about it more often, and is forced to defend his (lack of) policy. Predictably, he’s saying some pretty stupid things.
Consider this, from an interview with People:
Do you think Gore is right on global warming?
I think we have a problem on global warming. I think there is a debate about whether it’s caused by mankind or whether it’s caused naturally, but it’s a worthy debate. It’s a debate, actually, that I’m in the process of solving by advancing new technologies, burning coal cleanly in electric plants, or promoting hydrogen-powered automobiles, or advancing ethanol as an alternative to gasoline.
First, no, there’s not a debate. And if there were … how does one "solve" a debate? And if it were epistemologically possible to "solve" a debate, how would you do it with a series of subsidies to industry?
Anyhoo. Here he is on Larry King Live last night:
KING: Al Gore was on recently on this program, and concerning the environment he said, "President Bush and Vice President Cheney have anointed to every key position that has anything to do with climate change special interest spokesmen for the oil companies, coal companies, and this is no secret." How do you respond to that? Have you seen his film?
G. BUSH: No, I haven’t seen it yet, but I guess politics never stops. We have done a lot to deal with greenhouse gases by advancing new technologies.
You know, I campaigned against Al Gore. I said we’re going to spend money for clean coal technologies, and we’re in the process of doing that. And one of these days, people will look back and say, well, thank goodness the Bush administration made these investments, because we’ll be able to have electricity from coal that won’t pollute.
KING: Why do you think he put a bad rap on you?
G. BUSH: I don’t know why. Politics, I guess. But we’re the ones — my administration started the hydrogen initiative. Spent over $1 billion for research in the hopes that we’ll be able to power our automobiles by hydrogen, which would be an amazing advance in — in — in cleaning the environment. We’ve done more on ethanol that any administration. We’ve got a great record. And — but this town is full of politics. People just say what they want to say.
Two things. First, as ThinkProgress points out, Bush seems to have forgotten that a crucial feature of his campaign against Gore was a promise to regulate CO2 as a pollutant — a promise he flagrantly reneged on (humiliating Christie Todd Whitman in the process).
Second … well, I’ll let Ezra say it:
So there you have it. Subsidies for the coal industry. Subsidies for Iowa corn farmers. Subsidies for the auto industry. If it looks like corporate welfare, walks like corporate welfare, and quacks like corporate welfare, it’s probably not a sound greenhouse gas policy.
Third, notice the tendency — born of projection — to assume that all criticism is "political." For the Bush administration, everything has been political: war, terrorism, health care, energy policy, everything. It’s all been viewed as a way to bash and demonize Democrats. The idea that Al Gore is genuinely interested in good energy policy, and disagrees with Bush’s appointments on those grounds, simply doesn’t fit into his worldview. It doesn’t compute. Like I said yesterday, for the modern movement conservatives, politics is all that’s left.