09/27/2008 01:25 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama should go after McCain's delusional clean energy claims

Obama has begun to win the crucial clean energy and energy independence issue. He should deliver the knockout blow in the next two debates and his ads.

In particular, Obama should go after McCain's most delusional statement in the debate since it raises serious questions as to whether McCain is simply too mentally old to be president

In the debate, McCain repeated a lie that has been so well debunked factually, you simply have to wonder what is going on inside his head:

OBAMA: Over 26 years, Senator McCain voted 23 times against alternative energy, like solar, and wind, and biodiesel.

MCCAIN: No one from Arizona is against solar....
I have voted for alternate fuel all of my time...
No one can be opposed to alternate energy.

I don't know which is of those statements is more disturbing. McCain's second line is a staggering lie as his voting record demonstrates irrefutably (see "The greenwasher from Arizona has a record as dirty as the denier from Oklahoma" and below). The third sentence presumably means "no one in their right mind can be opposed to the obvious energy solution for this country" or, more simple, "support for alternative energy is just plain common sense."

That is a shockingly delusional line from someone who has one of the longest and strongest records against alternative energy in the Senate. The first line is frighteningly similar to the equally earnest but equally delusional defense he offered at the Aspen Institute when asked about the eight straight votes he missed on extending renewable energy tax credits in the past year:

I have a long record of that support of alternate energy. I come from a state where we have sunshine 360 days a year.... I've always been for all of those and I have not missed any crucial vote.

Sure, it's only common sense that someone who comes from such a sunny state would support solar energy. And yet McCain doesn't -- which ought to tell you all you need to know about him.

It simply bears repeating that McCain voted with oil-state Senator James "global warming is a hoax" Inhofe and against clean energy and the environment a staggering 42 out of 44 times since the mid-1990s -- even ignoring the votes McCain missed where he would have sided with Inhofe.This decade alone he has cast a vote after vote against clean energy incentives and "renewable portfolio standard" (RPS):

  • Tax credits for clean energy R&D (2001)

  • Require a 20 percent RPS where utilities buy 20 percent clean energy ('02)

  • Reduce 20 percent RPS requirement ('02)

  • Waive 20 percent RPS if utilities balk ('02)

  • Increase clean energy R&D funding ('05)

  • Clean energy incentives ('05)

  • An RPS to require utilities [to] buy some clean energy ('05)

  • Tax oil companies windfall profits to fund clean energy ('05)
  • In every case, McCain voted against renewables, as did Inhofe.

    Yet McCain sounds so earnest. Who could believe that he is not merely an opponent of alternative energy but an out-of-touch, stuck-in-the-1960s, eco-Luddite who believes "The truly clean technologies don't work"?

    McCain is either a very practiced liar who can fake sincerity, a pathological liar who believes his own lies, or a man with simply no memory of key events even a few months ago.

    Either way, he is not fit to be President.

    Obama can't be criticized for not hamming McCain on this during the debate, I think, for two reasons. First, he had a stellar and winning debate performance (see "Contemptuous, Erratic McCain Loses Tactically and Strategicially."

    Second, he clearly won this important issue in the minds of undecided voters because he stated forcefully in three different places his plan for energy independence. During the debate, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg ran a dial group of 45 undecided voters in St. Louis, Missouri: "These voters had an unmistakably Republican tilt, voting for President Bush by a 2-to-1 margin in 2004 and self-identifying as 33 percent Republican and 27 percent Democrat." What did they hear?

    On one of the most important issues to these voters -- who will do a better job achieving energy independence -- Obama ... more than doubl[ed] an already impressive 20-point lead on the issue to 44 points. Obama scored some of his highest marks on our dials when talking about the need to make America energy independent. Even those who felt [Obama lost] the debate agreed in our follow-up focus groups that Obama was the more persuasive candidate on energy independence.

    But energy independence and clean energy are such seminal issues for winning independent and undecided voters, that I think team Obama needs to hammer McCain on his clean energy lies and delusions over and over again. Certainly Obama should repeat his factually accurate attack on McCain's record in the two remaining debates and pounce when he repeats his delusional lies. Related Posts: