John McCain takes the “conserve” out of “conservative.” His entire energy efficiency strategy would fit on one side of a very small file card and can be summarized as follows: Ban Porsches, green federal buildings, and applaud homeowners who do stuff on their own!

His repackaged new economic plan, “Jobs for America” has precisely three paragraphs that deal with efficiency:

CAFE Standards: John McCain has long supported CAFE standards — the mileage requirements that automobile manufacturers’ cars must meet. Some carmakers ignore these standards, pay a small financial penalty, and add it to the price of their cars. John McCain believes that the penalties for not following these standards must be effective enough to compel carmakers to produce fuel-efficient vehicles.

Seriously. That’s all he has to say about fuel economy. McCain’s entire fuel economy strategy is to force a small number of “higher end auto companies like BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes” to make their cars fuel efficient. What a transformative, addiction-ending idea — I bet it would reduce U.S. oil consumption at least one-tenth of 1 percent:

Building Efficiency

Government Purchasing: John McCain will make greening the federal government a priority of his administration. The federal government is the largest electricity consumer on earth and occupies 3.3 billion square feet of space worldwide. It provides an enormous opportunity to lead by example. By applying a higher efficiency standard to new buildings leased or purchased and retrofitting existing buildings, we can save taxpayers money in energy costs, and move the construction market in the direction of green technology.

Good luck. Conservatives like McCain, including Newt Gingrich in the 1990s and President Bush this decade, have been blocking progressive efforts to significantly increase the Federal Energy Management Program budget for decades. Note to McCain: the construction market has already swung heavily in the direction of green technology in the past decade — thanks mainly to the U.S. Green Building Council.

But the last paragraph on efficiency is the best of all. It puts McCain squarely in the Dick Cheney school of energy efficiency:

American Homes: Homeowners can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year with better light bulbs, appliances, windows, and insulation. As Americans retro-fit to improve energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint, jobs will flow to the U.S. providers of insulation, windows, appliances, and other sources of energy efficiency.

I kid you not. Rather than offering a single government policy to accelerate efficient technologies into residences (or commercial buildings or the industrial sector, for that matter), which would simultaneously lower energy costs, create jobs, and reduce greenhouse gases — McCain devotes an entire paragraph in his “Jobs for America” plan to no policy whatsoever, but rather an expression of his confidence that homeowners will do everything on their own …

I now realize that McCain’s 100-nukes strategy is really a clever plan to increase the electricity bills of American homeowners, thereby incentivizing them to become more efficient on their own. Hmm. Now that I think of it, the Bush/Cheney/McCain economic plan to drive millions of Americans out of their homes, forcing them to live with relatives or in apartments or on the streets, is really an effort to encourage the virtue of conservation. Why didn’t progressives think of that?

This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.