John Dingell is the Boba Fett For Our Times

News today:

  • The Scooter-Libby commutation is still getting press, as the Dems (bless their hearts) limply attempt to beat the President up over it. Analysts cover column inches pointing out how Paris Hilton did more time than Scooter did, and how this doesn’t exactly fit with a) all those dodgey death sentences in Texas, or b) the hang-em-high mentality the DOJ’s gone with for 6 years.
  • Iraq’s up, all of a sudden, as two big elephants — Domenici and Lugar — defect from the WH, and the Dems see an opening to squeeze the administration for a timetable. Tony Snow swears the team is united, but unnamed sources say otherwise.
  • Al Gore’s Live Earth shows got tons of ink — some people are on the Al Bandwagon, others are just sourpusses who never liked music, and quite a few went for the easy pickings of how energy-intensive it was to throw simultaneous concerts all around the world.

We’re mentioning this on an environmental blog because what’s really going on (beyond the front page) is some potentially-landmark energy legislation — a HUGE chance to redirect the country toward clean electricity generation and fuel efficiency.

But….

But it’s also a huge chance to install some environmentally-disastrous policies that would drive this country down a road of greater pollution, greater costs, and greater problems. A cadre of legislators and lobbyists are working hard to push through a bill that tiptoes out of the oil-dependent frying pan, and into the coal-burning and ethanol-burning fire.

For months now, Rep. John Dingell (D-GM) has been pushing hard to protect the Big 3 from any real legislation. He wants to keep the EPA out of regulating CO2, and he’s been fighting hard to get Congress to throw money at liquid-coal technology (given the inflammatory moniker “Nazi oil“, for its use in German vehicles during WWII). Pelosi’s stood up to him before, but as chair of Energy & Commerce, he’s got a lot of pull, since he extracted a deal to write the energy legislation.

Democrats are notorious for pseudo-convictions that endure about as long as it takes for the press to leave the room, especially when it comes to environmentalism.  Their leadership’s focus on the war and US Attorneys, and ironically Live Earth’s accidentally-timed distraction of the green crowd away from such a crucial piece of legislation all create a less friendly scenario for sensible energy policy.

Perhaps this is, from a Democratic political standpoint, wise.  President Bush is, first of all things, a friend to business, so he might veto aggressive MPG standards hikes and aggressive clean-energy requirements.  He has never turned a deaf ear to the plaintive cries from the boardroom, and has a particular friendliness for the energy industry.  He will have a much harder time vetoing an Iraq withdrawal that now looks like it will have bipartisan support, and the veto pen can’t stop hearings or subpoenas.

But if not now, when?  Democrats are highly skittish about, you know, leading on anything at all — offending a voter is their chief fear, a far bigger fear than the prospect of achieving nothing.  Even if they win the presidency in 2008 and consolidate their majority, the presence of John Dingells in their caucus and the tactically-superior Republicans on the other side will keep the donkeys in a tentative posture at best.

So since there will never be a time when truly progressive energy policy is easy to get, the answer is to push now and push hard.

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