11/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Four Years Later

Columbus, OH -- Four years ago I sent everyone in my email directory a photo I took on Sixth Street here -- an abandoned brick factory with broken windows and a huge "Bush-Cheney for a New America" banner hanging from it. Little did I guess that the factory would become an even more appropriate symbol of this Administration, and that the American economy, not just its manufacturing segments, would be flat on its back this October.

But the energy level at the campaign headquarters for Mary Jo Kilroy, a long-time Sierra Club member running for Congress in the 15th Congressional district here, is extraordinary -- 50 phone bankers gather to hear about the opportunities that a green economy and clean energy jobs can create in this state, where the previously robust white collar economy of the state's capital is beginning to feel economic unease.

Kilroy is wonderful -- she's led Franklin County into a real leadership position on clean water and energy efficiency issues -- and she'd make a fabulous addition to the roster of environmental champions in the House. She'd help replace environmental stalwarts such as Mark and Tom Udall, who are ahead in their races and apparently headed to the Senate.

And a couple of hundred miles to the north, Senator Obama is laying out his "closing argument," prominently featuring the 5 million new jobs he'll generate from investing in clean energy.

Meanwhile, Senator McCain's economic spokesperson, Doug Holtz-Eakin, has just made clear that McCain's pledge to do something about global warming is, as Richard Nixon once famously said, "inoperative." Holtz-Eakin said that McCain would defy the Supreme Court order to use the EPA's clean air authority to deal with carbon dioxide, arguing that mandatory limits on CO2 would amount to "centralized control of the economy." Oh. I wonder if in his heart of hearts John McCain now believes the same thing about emission limits on sulfur and nitrogen -- or is carbon somehow sacred to free markets? Perhaps capping carbon is now just another form of "socialism?"

With every passing day, the contrast between the candidates for president grows larger. Let's hope the margin of people opting for the future over the past will keep growing with it.

Paid for by Sierra Club Political Committee,, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.