McCain has a new ad titled “Purpose”:

The AP critiqued it with a piece titled, “McCain energy ad short on specifics.” Okay, mainstream media, half credit.

The ad has a much bigger problem than lack of specifics — McCain is trying to get a political boost by claiming he will champion popular clean energy technologies that he, like President Bush and most conservatives, has consistently opposed:

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SCRIPT: Announcer: American technology protected the world. We went to the moon, not because it was easy, but because it was hard. John McCain will call America to our next national purpose: energy security.

A comprehensive bipartisan plan to lower prices at the pump, reduce dependence on foreign oil through domestic drilling, and champion energy alternatives for better choices and lower costs. Putting country first.

McCain: I’m John McCain and I approved this message.

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You cannot be serious. The only energy “alternative” McCain seriously champions is nuclear power, which (unlike, say, polyester) is two years older then he is (the first experimental nuclear fission was in 1934). As for the other alternatives the ad depicts, solar and wind — McCain has been one of their leading opponents in Congress of government efforts to promote.

This ad is as phony as his photo-op earlier this year. To repeat the key point documented by the Center for American Progress, McCain has repeatedly opposed a renewable electricity standard that would have set a minimum requirement for utilities to generate part of their power from sources like wind.

Half the states have such requirements, a key reason the industry has not died out entirely in this country. Most European countries have such requirements, a key reason their countries had become leaders. Where was McCain:

In 2002 and 2005, there were votes in the Senate to require utilities nationwide to generate 10 percent or 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy resources. Sen. McCain voted against renewable electricity every time.

  • 2005: Voted against a renewable portfolio standard
  • 2002: Voted against 20 percent requirement:
  • 2002 (Vote 55): Voted to gut 10 percent requirement:
  • 2002 (Vote 59): voted to gut 10 percent requirement:

McCain opposed subsides for wind power, as he told Grist in October:

Grist: What’s your position on subsidies for green technologies like wind and solar?

McCain: I’m not one who believes that we need to subsidize things. The wind industry is doing fine, the solar industry is doing fine. In the ’70s, we gave too many subsidies and too much help, and we had substandard products sold to the American people, which then made them disenchanted with solar for a long time.

A classic energy doubletalker, like President Bush, McCain appeals to conservatives by opposing government-led programs to promote clean energy, while trying to appeal to independents by wrapping himself in solar panels.

The AP story does make one good point:

The ad calls for more domestic drilling, but avoids controversy over where to drill by keeping the issue vague. McCain has proposed opening coastal waters that have been off limits for decades to drilling, and has called for building 100 new nuclear power reactors. Both issues are controversial and are not addressed directly in the ad. Government energy analysts have said opening offshore waters that now are under drilling moratoria would not likely have a significant impact on oil supplies or prices before 2030.

Again, McCain is hoping the media and voters won’t notice his doubletalk, calculated ambiguity, and contradictory energy policies so he can simultaneously woo both conservatives and independents.

This super-cynical ploy can only work if both the media and the public are, like my 16-month-old daughter, easily distracted by shiny objects, in this case wind turbines and solar panels. While this cynicism is certainly justified when it comes to most of the traditional media, I actually think most of the voters are smarter than McCain believes.

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