John McCain's campaign has been marked by gimmick after gimmick. We had the gas tax holiday--denounced by over 230 leading economists, including 4 Nobel Prize winners. Then we saw McCain's plan to run the economy like a game show with his $300 million prize for car batteries. And we thought we'd seen the biggest gimmick of them all with his pick of Sarah "I'm no doom-and-gloom environmentalist like Al Gore" Palin for Vice President. But we really hadn't seen anything yet.
McCain's so-called "suspension" of his campaign (which apparently didn't really mean stopping it at all) and his attempt to dodge, er, postpone, the first presidential debate is by far the biggest gimmick of them all. We are apparently now to believe the man who hasn't voted on anything since April and missed every single key vote on energy and just about everything else this year and last is suddenly going to swoop into Washington and save the day. As Bill Clinton famously opined earlier this year, give me a break!
Let's review for a moment.
When Congress spent 6 full months last year working on a landmark energy bill that, among many other things, raised fuel economy standards for the first time in over 30 years, where was John McCain? Nowhere to be found.
(Of course McCain twice chaired the powerful Senate Commerce Committee--which has jurisdiction over the auto industry and fuel economy standards--and didn't find time to do much of anything, except apparently invent the BlackBerry.)
How many of the 23 Senate votes on the energy bill did John McCain miss? Every. Single. One.
When every single other Senator voted and efforts to repeal billions in government giveaways to Big Oil in order to fund clean energy failed by just a single vote, where was John McCain? Nobody knows.
When it become clear that our economy was in trouble and the Senate was debating a version of the economic stimulus that extended essential incentives for clean energy due to expire soon, where was John McCain? Sitting on his campaign plane at Dulles Airport 20 miles from the Capitol. And how many votes did clean energy lose by? One. And how many senators who had been on McCain's plane with him made the vote? Both of them. Did any other senators miss the vote? Nope. Did McCain's staffers then lie to Sierra Club members who called to complain? Yep.
Have these essential clean energy incentives been passed yet? Nope. How many votes on them has John McCain missed? At least nine.
How many people will lose their jobs in the wind and solar industries alone if the incentives don't pass? 116,000.
What percentage of votes has McCain missed this year? 64.1 percent. That's 117 more votes than Obama. And 101 votes more than a Senator Tim Johnson, who was absent for much of this Congress due to a brain hemorrhage.
So when John McCain shows up to the debate tonight and pretends to have the solutions to today's crises, someone should ask where he's been for the past 2 years (or the past 26)?
(Incidentally, the last time John McCain was losing an election--the 2000 primary against George Bush--he also pulled out of a debate at the last minute.)
It's time for America to say thanks, but no thanks, to Senator McCain.
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