Who's Paying for These Elections, Anyway?

10/14/2010 05:47 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Carl Pope Former executive director and chairman, Sierra Club

San Francisco -- I'm going to let you in a secret -- a dirty little secret -- but in a fun way. Before you read any more of this post, listen to this new version of an iconic Texas song.

That clip explains a lot. In some ways it's kind of puzzling. Just as the Obama administration announces its support for a massive wind-turbine project in Eastern Oregon, and Google and other partners launch a proposal for an enormous, game-changing offshore wind and transmission system for the East Coast, the Republican House Campaign Committee launches an all-out ad war on the whole concept of a clean-energy economy. The National Republican Congressional Committee has launched a blitz attack on ten members of Congress who have voted for the very federal funds that will make wind projects like the Oregon and East Coast initiatives possible.

The NRCC's claim is that since some of the wind-turbine components are manufactured in China, this was actually a vote to create jobs in China. Setting aside the fact that only three out of the 33,000 wind turbines installed in the U.S. were manufactured in China, it's odd that Republicans, who generally advocate much freer trade and fewer restrictions on sourcing imports from China, should suddenly have changed their tune. Indeed, back in the spring, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell strongly opposed the limited "Buy American" provisions included in the stimulus package by the Obama administration.

So why are the Republicans going after clean energy so strongly, since polls consistently show tremendous public support for exactly that?  Perhaps it's because, as the saying goes, "he who pays the piper calls the tune." And the media assault on the Obama administration and the Democrats has been funded, overwhelmingly, by coal and oil interests trying to maintain their monopoly as America's energy suppliers. This has been widely reported -- from the incredible Jane Mayer expose of how Koch oil has funded the Tea Party, among other anti-Obama assaults, to more routine reporting on where big oil and coal money is flowing this year.  But if you want to see the most impressive visual representation of how dirty energy is paying for this year's election -- think back to the "Valero Oil of Texas" ditty you just heard -- take a look at this very cool graphic showing the funding base of the efforts to stop California's clean-air programs, the infamous Prop 23.

If we don't do everything we can during the next 20 days to get everyone we know to vote, we run the risk of handing this country over to oil and coal -- and we know how good a job they will do from the eight-year run they bought for George Bush.  How about sending the cool song and the graphic out to all your friends to start?