Whither Obama? There’s a growing chorus calling for the president to show leadership on the BP oil disaster by connecting it to America’s fossil-fuel dependence and the potential of clean-energy investment.

“The silence from the White House is deafening,” a Clinton-era White House aide told ClimateWire. “Clearly without a White House push there does not seem to be adequate political momentum” to pass a Senate clean-energy bill.

Today Thomas Friedman calls the Gulf leak Obama’s 9/11 — the biggest opportunity of his presidency to ask Americans to invest in nation-building clean-energy infrastructure, an opportunity he is so far squandering. I’ve been making the same case.

Yesterday, the Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, and Blue Green Alliance (a labor-enviro partnership) held a press event calling for Obama to put clean energy in the national spotlight.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

And actor Robert Redford released a cable TV ad with NRDC echoing the same message: “The Gulf disaster is more than a terrible oil spill. It’s the product of a failed energy policy — one that puts oil-company profits ahead of people and the environment. America needs safe, clean and renewable energy — not more oil spills … Tell President Obama to lead America toward a clean-energy future.”

Redford’s accompanying post spells out the situation even more:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The American Power Act, drafted by Senators Kerry and Lieberman, is not perfect — but it is a significant step toward cutting our dependence on fossil fuels, limiting carbon pollution, and encouraging businesses to shift to clean energy sources.

Unfortunately, the full Senate continues to stall — weighed down by too much infighting and too many special interests. That’s why we need the president to assert his voice and leadership by letting the Senate — and the American people — know that he is serious about getting clean energy and climate legislation passed this year.

Quite a spokesman, Mr. Redford. Here’s the eye-catching ad: