Here’s how the first line of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act [PDF] begins: “Mr. KERRY (for himself and Mrs. BOXER) introduced the following bill …”

See whose name is first there?

It’s not “Mr. Kerry and Mrs. Boxer introduced” either. He’s introducing it. This is John Kerry’s bill. Boxer has signed on as a co-sponsor.

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Word has it this decision came down from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) himself.

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It’s widely acknowledged that Boxer bungled the Lieberman-Warner bill last year, particularly in managing (or not, as the case may be) the floor debate. And there are rumors that she’s already stepped on toes and pissed a bunch of people off in the process of putting this bill together. For instance, earlier this month a group of eight Dem senators sent Boxer some legislative language on carbon capture and sequestration. They said it was “imperative” for her to include the language in the bill, not language senators use lightly. These were exactly the swing Dems Boxer will need votes from: Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Warner (Va.), Arlen Specter (Penn.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey Jr. (Penn.), and Joe Lieberman (Conn.). Suffice to say, the language isn’t in the bill.

Some of the grumbling is probably just the typical Capitol rumor-mongering, and some is undoubtedly related to the fact that she’s a strong woman who speaks bluntly, but perception is reality in D.C., and for whatever reason, Dems don’t have faith that Boxer can manage this process. She’s just not that well liked — except by Reid, which is why he allowed her to stay on as co-sponsor.

Kerry’s Senate record isn’t exactly littered with major accomplishments either, but from all accounts he’s completely thrown himself into this. It’ll be a real test of his chops, and if he defies the odds and shepherds it all the way to passage, he will finally have the Kennedy-sized accomplishment he’s always wanted.

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