The energy bill currently being hashed over in the Senate, if passed there, will go to a House-Senate conference committee. It may well die there. The most likely culprit is the issue of a legal liability shield for manufacturers of gas additive MTBE.

Who’s the most stubborn champion of the measure, the one willing to kill his own party’s bill by defending it? Tom Delay.

But oh, look at this:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay owns stock worth more than $50,000 in ExxonMobil, according to financial disclosure reports, while at the same time he is one of the driving forces behind legislation that would shield that company and other manufacturers of the gasoline additive MTBE from lawsuits that could cost them millions.

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Already under fire for alleged ethical lapses, DeLay, a Texas Republican, has hired the Houston law firm Bracewell and Giuliani to defend against those charges. But the firm, in which former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is a partner, also represents a host of MTBE manufacturers in court and in Congress.

But hold on, now, before you go jumping to conclusions …

Dan Allen, DeLay’s spokesman, scoffed at the suggestion the second highest-ranking House Republican has done anything untoward.

"First of all, everyone knows Congressman Tom DeLay bases his votes on the merits of legislation before him and only the merits of the legislation," Allen said.

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Oh, right, right, I knew that! I just forgot for a moment.

(Via Carpetbagger via WM)