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Rocky Mountain News Opinion Page Defends Bob Schaffer & Big Oil

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The right-wing opinion writers that make up the Rocky Mountain “News” (RMN) editorial board came to the defense of Bob “Big Oil” Schaffer’s support of the fossil fuel industry in today’s piece. Entitled, “Buying into the Big Oil smear”, the editorialists manufacture plenty of crocodile tears for the poor voters who buy into misleading attack ads.

They cite Republican political consultant Katy Atkinson’s oh-so-sincere concern over the League of Conservation Voters “negative” ad linking Bob Schaffer with Big Oil. The next item mentioned in the column is closer to her true concern with Schaffer’s 2008 campaign, I think:

When negative ads are running without anything contradicting them, and when there are no negatives against Udall . . . I wouldn’t have been surprised if Udall’s lead was 15.

As long as Republicans run negative ads in return, everything would be fine, it appears. I didn’t hear Katy or any other Republicans whining about the negative ads their party and related 527s ran in 2006 or 2004 or … anytime recently. But that was before they started losing races at every level across the country. Now, negative ads are just plain bad. They’re probably not representative of our old fashioned American values, either. But as far as Republican ads go, in no way should Democrats or associated groups feel sorry that they can’t raise money or interest in their candidates this year. Bob Schaffer made the decision to run. It’s his responsibility to define himself to voters. If he allows others to do it for him, well, that’s just the way it goes.

More on the Rocky’s concerns after the fold.

They identify the League of Conservation Voters Bob Schaffer ad as crude and lurid. Well yes, the details are shocking, and rightfully so. It is shocking that Schaffer voted to approve $13 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas corporations. It is shocking that following that massive corporate welfare giveaway, those same corporations have posted record profit quarter after quarter, year after year. IT is shocking that when Schaffer left office, a gallon of gas cost about a buck and a half. As we’re all too aware, that same gallon of gas goes for over $4.00 today. That’s lurid, RMN.

What isn’t shocking is that the RMN editorial board says that

they [LCV] are ready to scapegoat an entire industry and anyone associated with it for economic woes that have broad – indeed global – origins.

There’s no scapegoating going on here. Schaffer took was a part of a party that has taken direct action for decades to maintain our country’s addiction to coal, gas and oil. Every time conservation or renewable energy proposals come up, they’re beaten down at the behest of the Big Oil (and Energy) corporate behemoths. To think that energy corporations could make their profits without the establishment and maintenance of infrastructure by the government is ludicrous. And shame on the RMN board to treat its readers like a bunch of rubes by trying to convince them energy corporations’ success was helped by magic ponies.

“It seems Bob Schaffer accepted campaign contributions from the industry and voted for tax breaks”. These kinds of things don’t just happen by accident. Oops, I received $100,000 from Exxon’s PAC. I just can’t imagine how I’ll end up voting on a taxpayer money giveaway for them. It’s time to step out of La-La Land. This country has been held back from developing alternative energy sources and pushing conservation for too long. Now, we’re all paying the price: at the pump, at the grocery store, and in the freaking desert in Iraq. But I guess that whole Iraq invasion and occupation is another magical accident too. No one to blame there.

The RMN board tries to spread blame around, saying a majority of Congresspeople voted for the tax breaks. I have more bad news for the board: only one of those people is running to represent Colorado as a Senator for the next 6 years. One question voters have the opportunity and privilege to ask is: what is Bob Schaffer’s record with respect to the energy industry? The LCV ad takes one stance on that issue, nothing more. Bob Schaffer and the oil corporations get to run whatever ad they see fit. And voters get to decide which one speaks to them.

The RMN board further attempts to sully the LCV in general by citing their desire to implement similar tax breaks for its favorite energy sources. I wrote about government subsidy numbers a couple of weeks ago here, and will reproduce them now for discussion:

Dept. of Energy solar budget, 2008: $168 million

Venture capital investment in solar, 2006: $264 million

Dept. of Energy renewable-energy budget, 2008: $1.7 billion

Venture capital investment in renewable energy, 2006: $2.4 billion

Federal ethanol subsidies, 2006: $6 billion

Federal coal subsidies, 2006: $8 billion

Federal oil and gas subsidies, 2006: $39 billion

Worldwide investment in renewable energy, 2007: $71 billion

Damn LCV for wanting to give part of the nearly $50 billion given away to the oil and gas industry to renewable energy sources!!! How ever will the oil and gas industry survive? I have even more news for the RMN ed board: energy collected and distributed solely within the U.S. also increases our national security. Further, LCV has just as much right to advocate for their interests as the oil and gas corporations do. Slipping a finger into the stranglehold the fossil fuel industry has on subsidies isn’t likely to destroy their industry. If it does, doesn’t that say more about the manner in which they conduct their business than anything else?

The board continues by identifying Schaffer’s post-Congressional job at a midsized oil and gas corporation as an honorable profession, which is fine. It’s their opinion and this is an opinion piece. Their next statement totally rubbed me the wrong way (probably its purpose):

Those who disagree might want to shut off the utility lines to their house and see how they like relying on fireplaces and wood stoves next winter.

How incredibly mature and non-crude of them to offer this condescending piece of advice. How exactly does it possibly advance the discussion surrounding energy policy to tell critics to go freeze off? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. There’s no way the RMN ed board actually wants to advance an honest policy discussion. They’re trying to rile up conservatives, a task I wish them luck at in this election cycle.

I can’t let this slide by:

“Colorado deserves cleaner representation in the Senate,” the ad concludes. Notice the double meaning of the word “cleaner,” clearly deliberate, and thus another implicit smear.

I won’t advise the RMN ed board to refrain from bringing up Schaffer’s problems with his “clean” image. I doubt most voters have even a passing knowledge of the Abramoff, Orr or Shires problems yet. If they did, I would bet money the polling would show Schaffer down by at least 15 points. If I were the RMN ed board or Katy Atkinson or any other Republican, I would hope that voters’ familiarity with Schaffers ethical problems stayed under the radar.

This LCV ad seems to me to be a scapegoat instead for Schaffer’s lackluster poll and fundraising performance. It’s the evil environmentalists’ fault that Schaffer can’t get a fair shake, after all. Give me a break. As I said before, Bob Schaffer is running as a Republican. If voters don’t want to send a Republican to the Senate, that’s his problem.

If voters are to get a real sense of where Bob Schaffer stands on energy policy, he can answer a question like the following, which came from Scientists and Engineers of America (and which I blogged about here):

Energy. Many scientists and policymakers say energy security and sustainability are major problems facing the United States this century. What policies would you support to meet the demand for energy while ensuring an economically and environmentally sustainable future?

Combine his answer with his record on energy and let’s see what happens.


Cross-posted at SquareState.

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