Note to media: Pork queen Palin is an earmark expert, NOT energy expert

palin.jpgIf you Google Palin “energy expert,” you’ll find more than 10,000 hits. It’s no surprise that conservative shills like George Pataki and Haley Barbour use that label — heck, a major conservative talking point is that she’s a foreign-policy expert because “Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia,” as Cindy McCain put it. Conservatives are desperate to inflate the resume of this partially vetted semi-qualified VP choice.

But it is outrageous for CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo to say on Meet the Press, “I think the biggest value she brings to the ticket is her expertise in energy.” What Palin is primarily knowledgeable about is drilling for oil in Alaska, which, of course, Senator McCain opposes — so she is “expert” in the one area that is utterly irrelevant for a McCain administration. But the larger point for the media is that she is knowledgeable on only one small and largely irrelevant subset (Alaska) of two types of energy (oil and gas).

And “knowledgeable” is a generous word for someone who said in July, “ I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem. That absurd claim makes of her not even an oil expert, but an oil shill. I guess she has missed all those ads from billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens, who keeps saying, “I’ve been an oil man all my life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.” And, oddly enough, she doesn’t read this blog (see “The cruel offshore-drilling hoax” and “Offshore drilling raises oil prices*“)

Shill may be putting it mildly. Palin has said that new multibillion-dollar fossil fuel infrastructure in Alaska is “God’s Will.” She has said:

I can do my part in doing things like working really, really hard to get a natural gas pipeline — about a $30 billion project that’s going to create a lot of jobs for Alaskans and will have a lot of energy flowing through here — and pray about that also. I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that.

If God listens to prayers for building oil infrastructure, it is safe to say I’m in the wrong religion. I guess we can add theologian to her growing list of areas of expertise. But, of course, renewable energy is not on the list:

Alternative-energy solutions are far from imminent and would require more than 10 years to develop.

Uhh, no. Even Pickens thinks we can get 20% of our electricity from wind power alone in 10 years. Renewables — and efficiency — are ready now, unlike new coastal drilling resources (see “Efficiency, Part 3: The only cheap power left” and “Why we never need to build another polluting power plant” and “Is 450 ppm possible? Part 5: Old coal’s out, can’t wait for new nukes, so what do we do NOW?“).

And, of course, in the 21st century, it is inconceivable that anyone could earn the label “energy expert” if she or he denies that humans are changing the climate (see “McCain VP Palin is a global-warming-denying, polar-bear-dissing, Pat Buchanan acolyte“).


The one area of experience in energy she really has shown is how to waste it on behalf of her constituents building earmarked infrastructure. And in that she may well be the world’s foremost authority.

Palin delivered a staggering $4000 per person in federal earmarks to her tiny town in a span of four years as mayor. Now that is non-reformer with results. If she replicated that nationwide as Vice President — and who among us couldn’t use another $4000 in stuff — that would be more than a trillion dollars in earmarks.

Finally, as the Anchorage Daily News reported on Sunday in “Palin touts stance on ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ doesn’t note flip-flop“: “Palin was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it.” Plus, the state kept the money and “is continuing to build a road on Gravina Island to an empty beach where the bridge would have gone — because federal money for the access road, unlike the bridge money, would have otherwise been returned to the federal government.

We need to completely redirect our transportation infrastructure funding from pointless roads and bridges to high-speed trains and mass transit.

Bottom line for the media reporting on her big speech tonight and in future stories on the Alaska Governor: Sarah Palin is an earmark expert, not an energy expert.

For a related article, see Thomas Friedman’s “And Then There Was One” in today’s NYT:

With his choice of Sarah Palin — the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change — for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.

Given the fact that Senator McCain deliberately avoided voting on all eight attempts to pass a bill extending the vital tax credits and production subsidies to expand our wind and solar industries, and given his support for lowering the gasoline tax in a reckless giveaway that would only promote more gasoline consumption and intensify our addiction to oil, and given his desire to make more oil-drilling, not innovation around renewable energy, the centerpiece of his energy policy — in an effort to mislead voters that support for drilling today would translate into lower prices at the pump today — McCain has forfeited any claim to be a green candidate.

13 Responses to Note to media: Pork queen Palin is an earmark expert, NOT energy expert

  1. paulm says:

    The selection on Palin reflects more on McCain than anything!
    (or its one heck of a chess move).

    Did they mess up the veting or did they select her knowing all the background ?

    Either way, it will be scary to have him in the driving seat.

  2. BrandyC says:

    Her new motto shall be “Pork Queen for Pork Barrel”

  3. Rick C says:

    I wonder if she denies the law of gravity because its “just a theory.”

  4. John Mashey says:

    This appears to be only the tiniest tip of the iceberg:

    1) Anyone with any knowledge of political history knows there are two kinds of “reform” candidates:

    a) Reform candidates (real ones) who fight a corrupt organization for years from the outside.

    b) Reform candidates who are part of the corrupt organization, then figure out how to take it over, i.e., dethrone unpopular corrupt leadership, get control, and get ones’ own supporters in place, and then pretyt much run it the same way.

    it would be a good idea to know which kind Sarah Palin is….

    2) it is worth reading/watching and assessing:

    Google: anne kilkenny

    NY times

    Google: sarah palin steven silver abramoff

    Google: sarah palin stevens 527

    Google sarah palin hockey stadium

    3) Alaskan Independence Party
    Palin welcoming people.

    and look at the associated videos for background. AIP looks interesting. [Wild speculation: people have proposed that AIP is the reason for the totally-insane trip from Texas back to AK to have her baby- they’d want the new kid to be clearly Alaskan. :-) Todd Palin was a member for years; note that the video is from 2008.

    4) And for a useful list:


    5) Unlike most cliimate+energy things, I haven’t personally vetted all this stuff, but at the rate it’s coming, if even 10% of it’s true….

    Of course, it would be better to say: “Yes, it’s warming, and we’re doing it, but we need the oil money to help fix the problems overall AGW is going to cause us here.” I doubt anyone coudl get elected AK gov ifthey said “no drilling”.

    Recall that AK gets 50% of its revenue from oil, has no state income or sales tax, and gives $1000+/year to each citizen, i.e., it’s similar to an OPEC state in its budget.

    For some reason, many of the rest of us subsidize AK, i.e., at least, as of ,a href=””>2001 we did. In fact, at 142% (received from Fed/taxes sent to Fed), that year, AK was one of the highest percentage recipients, behind only NM (170%), MS (150%), ND (156%), WVa (147%).

    It’s not instantly obvious why we subsidize AK, but maybe there’s some good reason.

    5) Does anyone recall Monica Goodling? and “Brownie”? If I have to assess a manager, the very first thing I look at is who they hire…

  5. Paul K says:

    John Mashey,
    This is not up to your usual sterling analysis.
    1) I can think of two bits of political history right here in Chicago that belie your two kinds of “reform” candidates.
    a) Gus Savage (by your definition a true reformer) was the crusading publisher of a neighborhood weekly paper here on the south side. He vigorously exposed corruption, most famously in the land contract/FHA mortgage scandal that devastated the working poor in our area. He ran for Congress in my district against the machine and was finally elected on his third try. To everyone’s surprise and dismay, he turned into an ethical disaster.
    b) Harold Washington was a state senator and US congressman adept at machine politics. Over time he became disenchanted with the where’s mine machine philosophy and ran for mayor promising reform. He won and he kept his promise. Some of his reforms have endured, but many have been taken away as the machine has tightened its grip on the city and county since his untimely passing.
    In the recent election for Cook County Board President Sen, Obama had a chance to support the reform candidate Forrest Claypool. He chose instead to endorse the corrupt and incompetent machine candidate.

    2) Ms Kilkenny is, by her own words, a local Democratic activist who says Palin hates her – not exactly an unbiased source.

    On Google I learned Steven Silvers relationship with Abramoff began after Palin’s term as mayor ended. But, if you’d like to play the guilt by association game, ask yourself how comfortable you are with Sen. Obama’s career long close association with convicted political fixer Tony Rezko.

    I don’t like 527 groups either. They are an unfortunate result of campaign finance laws abused by both parties.

    My company, Chicago Style StandUps, specializes in bringing entertainment to small towns like Wasila. I can tell you that facilities like the hockey stadium/events center are seen as vital economic factors in these markets.

    3) & 4) Irrelevant

    5) I agree. Alaska is a different kind of place.

  6. jorleh says:

    Seem to be nice people this Palin and that Mc Cain. I only wonder why God would be your energy minister and destroy you and all the rest of us in the company of these know-nothing creatures of His.

  7. David Lewis says:

    Of course you could drill your way out of this problem. You insert a drill into her brain, and drill your way out. You might be able to get in through her nose, or pound one in through an eardrum. If it came to it, you could drill your way in, then drill your way out. Where is your faith in American know how? It would be tough going drilling through a head that thick but I’m pretty sure the technology is available.

    The problem the Republicans think they can drill their way out of isn’t oil supply. They’ve blown it so badly they lost both the House and the Senate and it looks to them that losing the Presidency is a matter of time. Worse, they are even wondering if they’re going to be able to hang on to the 40% of the Senate they need if they want to retain any power at all. It will be an unmitigated disaster if the Republicans are swept away. The Democratic Party might be able to enact policies that face the problems of today, its unbelieveable, they might even spend tax money on useful things Americans want done in the US instead of blowing it all on military operations in a country that had nothing to do with the attacks on New York and Washington. Its a tragic situation the Republicans are throwing everything into heading off as I write. I sent them a negative donation slip they could sign that would transfer some of their campaign funds to my account so I could give them to the Democratic Party I was so moved: I wanted to do something, anything, to help them out. If we all helped them out like this, maybe they could be kept out for a very long time.

    Republican strategists aren’t stupid enough to believe they can drill their way out of the oil supply problem, but they know that a number of voters like the idea of giving it the old college try. People out there are yearning for someone to drill into every square inch of the US right down to the center of the Earth, so Bush’s daddy can continue to get into his cigarette boat and drive across the bay using only 1,000 gallons per mile or whatever it is.

    There are some other people, and the only thing to do is hope they show up and vote when the time comes.

  8. Janet Greene says:

    Truly incredible that the Repubs would even ATTEMPT to pass Palin off as an energy expert. She is, perhaps, an expert at propoganda, at lying to exaggerate her own portfolio (one of many examples – bridge to nowhere – “I said thanks but no thanks”), at killing animals for sport, of being anti-environmental (doesn’t believe in global warming, doesn’t want to protect endangered species) on hating women (abstinance only education, which is a recipe for teen pregnancies and a rise in HIV/AIDS, no abortions even when raped, and rape victims have to pay for their own rape kits), and basically being a right-wing extremist wing-nut who is completely uneducated on anything of relevance. Absolutely incredible that she is being taken seriously on any front – international, economy, or energy. She is utterly clueless – why can’t everyone see this? It’s out there for everyone to see.

  9. proudgranny says:

    Has anyone seen new polls on Palin/Biden contest? I think it scary that polls on the 23rd still showed her Favoured by 53% of voters polled. I think Biden must be very careful not to be flippant with Sarah as she is really good at playing the “they are picking on me but that’s okay. I can take it for the country” card & as a previous blogger mentioned ” Bulls**t does baffle brains”

  10. AK Resident says:

    The Alaska-Centric Palin Book…

    Sarah takes on Big Oil: The compelling story of Gov. Sarah Palin’s battle with Alaska’s ‘Big 3’ oil companies, as told by the state’s top oil and gas editors

    “Sarah takes on Big Oil” is a book about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her battle with the state’s three largest oil producers—ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips.

    A 216-page hardcover, “Sarah takes on Big Oil” is being released Oct. 12 by PNA Publishing, an affiliate of Petroleum News, an independent news-driven weekly newspaper based in Anchorage, Alaska.

    The authors, Kay Cashman and Kristen Nelson, are uniquely qualified to tell the story of Palin’s dealings with the oil industry, and the unusual circumstances that bracketed her unprecedented rise to power.

    Cashman, publisher and executive editor of Petroleum News, is a people person. She knows the people in Palin’s story, and they know her as someone who can be trusted with sensitive information.

    Nelson, editor-in-chief of Petroleum News, has a long record of covering the State of Alaska’s interaction with the state’s most lucrative industry.

    Cashman and Nelson bring a perspective to Palin’s story not available to general news reporters that makes for lively, but factual reading.

    “Sarah takes on Big Oil” includes an 8-page color insert with photos of Alaska’s oil industry by noted Alaska photographer Judy Patrick, a personal friend of Sarah Palin and Kay Cashman.

    PRESS AVAILABILITIES: Book cover and jacket images, and photos of Cashman and Nelson, and book collaborators Steve Sutherlin, Candice Ngo and Amy Spittler are available at

    Anchorage press contact and book collaborator: Steve Sutherlin
    Washington D.C. press contact and collaborator: Candice Ngo
    London press contact and book collaborator: Amy Spittler

    PNA Publishing is a division of Petroleum Newspapers of Alaska LLC.

    Sarah takes on Big Oil: The compelling story of Gov. Sarah Palin’s battle with Alaska’s ‘Big 3’ oil companies, as told by the state’s top oil and gas editors
    Kay Cashman and Kristen Nelson

    ISBN 978-0-9821632-0-7 (hardcover)
    Printed in the United States of America by RR Donnelly
    First Edition Printing October 2008

  11. shop says:

    What Palin is primarily knowledgeable about is drilling for oil in Alaska, which, of course, Senator McCain opposes — so she is “expert” in the one area that is utterly irrelevant for a McCain administration. But the larger point for the media is that she is knowledgeable on only one small and largely irrelevant subset (Alaska) of two types of energy

  12. büyütücü says:

    “Drill, baby, drill” is no solution to our energy problems, not by a long shot. Help us stand up to Big Oil today.