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The Straight Talk Express Needs a Teamster at the Wheel

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Back in 2001, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters joined the Bush administration in advocating drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It was a major blow to the progressive movement. But the most vocal advocate of the move, a Teamster leader in Alaska named Jerry Hood, was ousted by the membership several years ago. And yesterday, in a speech in Oakland, CA, Teamster President James P. Hoffa put his union solidly back on the side of the premise that the future of both America's economy and its environment lies in a new, clean economy.  Hoffa told union members that more drilling would do nothing to ease pain at the pump, and called instead for an investment in a clean energy economy that will create new jobs.

Hoffa announced that his union no longer supports drilling the Refuge, and went on to make this remarkable statement, referring to the last eight years:

"The environment has paid an even heavier price. Global warming is for real. Air pollution is killing people and making our children sick. And you know what? We share some of the blame. In the past, we were forced to make a false choice. The choice was: Good Jobs or a Clean Environment. We were told no pollution meant no jobs. If we wanted clean air, the economy would suffer and jobs would be sent overseas. Well guess what? We let the big corporations pollute and the jobs went overseas anyway. We didn't enforce environmental regulations and the economy still went in the toilet. The middle class got decimated and the environment is on the brink of disaster. Well I say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! No more false divides. The future, if we are to prosper as a nation, will lie in a green economy...."

Meanwhile, in almost pathetic proof that the Bible is right when it says "as ye sow, so shall ye reap," John McCain had to cancel a planned trip to Louisiana, where he was going to sing the virtues of off-shore oil drilling. McCain's staff tried to pass off the cancellation as all about the weather, but there was more going in the Gulf. A collision between a tanker and a barge had just spilled 419,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil into the Mississippi River, causing a slick approximately 12 miles long that closed a 29-mile stretch of river. The visuals would, shall we say, not have resembled a Ronald Reagan "Morning in America" event.

It's clear that McCain understands that abandoning his long opposition to offshore oil drilling was an act of craven self-abasement designed to put him back in the good graces of the Republican Party's  oil wing. He now admits that leasing will have no real impact on the price of gas, but he claims that it's still a good idea because it will have a "psychological" benefit. So having to cancel a trip to avoid giving the national press corps the opportunity to do split screens -- McCain shilling for oil on one side, a ravaged Mississippi on the other -- might in some odd way be a relief, psychologically speaking. But it won't help his campaign.

For a sense of just how absurd McCain's position is -- take a look at cartoonist Mark Fiore's latest.

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