This article by the AP’s Tina Lam is generally awful in terms of contrasting the candidates on energy. There is exactly one paragraph about what Obama is for, and the rest is a recitation of McCain proposals Obama has opposed. It’s designed, on purpose or by tacit acceptance of right-wing conventional wisdom, to make Obama look like the guy who opposes everything and McCain look like the guy with ideas (as if drilling for oil is a brilliant new policy proposal). It also gives McCain an absurdly free ride on his weak cap-and-trade system, which he may or may not actually plan to implement.

But a thought struck me as I was reading this:

Environmental issues cover a broad spectrum, from global warming to protecting the Great Lakes. In most national voter polls, those issues have been low on the scale throughout the campaign. The economy and the war in Iraq had been the top concerns. But as oil prices hit $4 per gallon this summer, before its recent retreat, attention from the public and the campaigns shifted to focus on oil and energy. [Note: why "oil and energy"? Why not "solar power and energy"? It’s only Republicans who want this to be purely about oil.]

In a Quinnipiac University poll July 14-22, voters in four key swing states including Michigan said energy policy was now more important to them than the war. Voters in each state said they support offshore drilling and drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but they’re even more supportive of developing more renewable energy, such as solar and wind power and biofuels.

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A confident movement would view this as an historic opportunity. All eyes are focused on their issue! Public attention could be the catapult that pushes good energy policy forward.

Yet somehow — in part thanks to lazy reporting like Lam’s — this has become about being for or against drilling for oil. Surreal.

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