Debate Part 1, McCain tells the truth and lies at the same time: “No one can be opposed to alternate energy.”

I had said I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a question on energy tonight. What I should have said is that I wouldn’t be surprised if McCain repeated his big energy lie, that he supports alternative energy, which of course he never has.

Let me briefly hit the big picture on the debate. The two insta polls out, from CBS and CNN, show that McCain lost by a large margin, by 13% or so. That large a gap means independents in particular didn’t like his performance (by 22% in this poll). And that is no big surprise since for independents, who fundamentally don’t like partisan politics — that’s why they aren’t a member of either party — repeatedly showing contempt for one’s opponent is a highly visible and undesirable quality in a potential president, especially someone who is supposed to be a reach-across-the-aisle bipartisan guy.

On the energy front, McCain continues to push a lie that has been so well debunked factually, you simply have to wonder what is going on inside his head:

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. The first is a staggering lie as the voting record demonstrates irrefutably (see “The greenwasher from Arizona has a record as dirty as the denier from Oklahoma” and below).

The second 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.”

It is a shockingly delusional line from someone who has one of the longest and strongest records against alternative energy in the Senate. It is also 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.

In fact, during the debate, McCain said: “No one from Arizona is against solar.” 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.

With apologies to my regular readers, it simply bears repeating that McCain voted with 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 James “Global warming is ‘the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people’ ” Inhofe.

    McCain is at best an out-of-touch green washer and at worst simply a pathological liar.

    Finally, as someone who is a student of strategy, who was the final editor for the Department of Energy strategic plan in the mid-1990s, it is really, really worrisome that a man seeking the highest office in the land not only doesn’t understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy, he actually has taken to lecturing others that they are the one who don’t understand.

    This isn’t hard. Strategy is the overarching goal, while tactics are the ways (the operational plans) you employ to achieve that goal. The surge is almost the very definition of a tactic, since it was a short-term boost in troop numbers. The key initial strategic decision was whether or not the threat posed by Saddam Hussein justified going to war in the first place.

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    21 Responses to Debate Part 1, McCain tells the truth and lies at the same time: “No one can be opposed to alternate energy.”

    1. Earl Killian says:

      McCain has a 0% 2007 score from the League of Conservation Voters. They pretty much said the same thing as you did at LCV Examines John McCain’s Alternative Reality on Alternative Energy. LCV also cited 1994 and 1999 votes.

    2. sparky says:

      In defense of McCain. He has supported America’a first offshore wind farm…Massachusetts’s Cape Wind (still in permitting). McCain helped defeat legislation that would have killed the project.

    3. jcwinnie says:

      Jo-jo, I am concerned by the yardstick with which you seem to be measuring John McBush, to wit, “He don’t lie very good, do he?”

      Are you simply bewailing the fact that Washington Theater is catering to an audience that regualr tunes into the soaps?

      Besides, since both candidates endorse coal along with far too “many crimes against humanity”, “lower than a snake’s belly” congress critters… (Hawk-splutt) essentially, the election already is over.

    4. Bob Wallace says:

      Sparky – I’m unfamiliar with that piece of legislation.

      Did McCain oppose the bill because he’s in favor of wind energy? Is that his record?

      Or was this a partisan “stick it to Ted Kennedy” vote?

    5. Russ says:

      Bob- I think there was some kind of Don Young-driven attempt in the House that would have, among other things, indirectly killed Cape Wind.

      I never heard of a senate equivalent, or if there was, how or why mccain voted on it.

    6. Joe says:

      JCW — Actually, he lies quite well, since as earlier posts have noted, he seems to fool the public, most of the media, the Apollo coalition, Bill Clinton….

      And I am surprised you are pushing the Naderesque moral equivalence argument. They do not “both endorse coal” whatever the heck that means.

    7. Thank you, Joseph, for citing my source of the Senate roll-call votes.

      It certainly is a long record and a damning one. I hate to admit it but only a year or so ago, before I looked through McCain’s record in particular, (rather than dealing with the Republicans intransigence generally) I myself didn’t realize quite how determined is his opposition to clean energy and climate change solutions.

      I thought all his absences last two years was more from the demands of his campaign, and I expected to find a vote or two in the past, going back to the Clinton administration. Only when I tallied them up did I notice that they rivalled Inhofe’s.

    8. Hank R. says:


      I am surprised there is no reaction today to the “one thing you would change” answer Obama gave regarding what in each candidate’s plans might be affected by the bailout blowing a hole in the budget.

      Energy Independane was cited by Obama as worth perhaps (my words) putting on the back burner. My take is that Obama missed the opportunity to pivot and note that energy efficiency offers a way out of this financial mess and should therefore be addressed ASAP.

      I know you suggested earler I might be being too hard on Obama considering his energy plans and I agree he is miles ahead of McCain.

      Perhaps I’m too sensitive to what seemed to occur far too often during the Clinton years, a lot of talk, but little action (even taking into consideration the congress he had to deal with).

    9. John Mashey says:

      And McCain’s backup:
      I heard a good talk about the politics and economies of petro-states, and the speaker later recommended an article, and I do also:

      Palin’s Petropoliics.

    10. red says:

      “This isn’t hard. Strategy is the overarching goal, while tactics are the ways (the operational plans) you employ to achieve that goal. The surge is almost the very definition of a tactic, since it was a short-term boost in troop numbers. The key initial strategic decision was whether or not the threat posed by Saddam Hussein justified going to war in the first place.”

      The way I think of it, an overarching goal comes first, and a strategy is a high-level plan for achieving the goal. A tactic is a more operational recipe for implementing the strategy. The definition probably gets hazy when moved from military to political or business realms.

      Using google on “tactics”, and skipping the first entry (on some surf board store), and then selecting “military tactics”, you get

      “In current military thought, tactics are the lowest level of planning, involving small units ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred men. Units are organized into formations, comprising a higher level of planning known as the operational use of forces. The third tier of military planning is strategic, which is concerned with the overall means and plan for achieving a long-term outcome.

      The US military generally defines three levels of war; 1. the strategic, which includes both the National level and the Combat Command (theater) level; 2. the operational level, which extends from the level of a joint task force including the combined forces of naval and air power with amphibious and ground operation to the maneuver brigade echelon; and 3. the tactical echelon that extends from the maneuver brigade to the lowest fighting elements including individual soldiers.”

      Beyond the semantics, I’m a bit worried about Obama’s level of foreign policy and military experience. Then again, I’m worried about the same thing with Palin.

      Anyway, my impression was that McCain was pretty incoherent in the first 2 or 3 questions. Then he reversed himself and did quite well from then on. Obama was steady the whole time. Obama did seem to agree with McCain an awful lot, even protesting that he (Obama) is for nuclear power and offshore drilling. I did like McCain’s jab against cost-plus contracting, although I don’t think it can be entirely eliminated. It would be nice to shrink it, though, and there are many cases where it could be. I think McCain’s talk about drilling being “a bridge” might be something to question.

      I think it’s a wash between the 2. If we get McCain, we’ll probably have a Democratic Congress, and the average of the 2 is about where the country is now. If we get Obama and a Democratic Congress, we’ll probably get an opposite reaction in 2 or 4 years, as I don’t think the country is somewhere between Obama and a Democratic Congress.

    11. rjm says:

      I always cringe a bit when a politician is singled out as a “liar” – all politicians play a little loose with truth. Calling McCain a liar is an invitation to call Obama a liar.

      Mudpit politics don’t really help your cause.

      [JR: Not calling out lies and saying everybody does it merely allows certain politicians to get away with lying all the time.]

    12. Earl Killian says:

      One thing that occurred to me when I first heard the $700 billion price tag was how much smaller it was than the $2 trillion net benefit that the EPA estimated the U.S. would see from it enforcing the Clean Air Act, as mandated by the Supreme Court (see ClimateProgress’s see White House disses Supreme Court, kills $2 trillion savings). And remember, that was with a 2030 gasoline price projection between $2.22 and $3.20, which seems laughable now.

      The White House illegally refusing to enforce the Clean Air Act. So why didn’t Obama say that simply unfettering the EPA would help pay for the CDO bail-out?

    13. Earl Killian says:

      John Mashey, that was a useful link, primarily for the Palin quotes at the end.

      “The conventional resources we have can fill the gap between now and when new technologies become economically competitive and don’t require subsidies,” she asserted. When pressed by a reporter for Oil & Gas Journal she went further, denouncing government support for renewable energy. “I just don’t want things to get out of hand with incentives for renewables, particularly since they imply subsidies, while ignoring fuels we already have on hand.”


    14. Andy Bauer says:

      I think when McCain says ‘alternative energy’, he means nuclear. And buying into the marketing ploy that is (not) ‘clean coal’. ‘Alternative’ means, to him, anything not oil.

      People who actually support solar PV, CSP, wind, landfill gas, sustainable biomass, tidal, etc, use terms like clean, renewable or sustainable energy.

    15. Vic says:

      “…off-shore drilling is also something that is very important and it is a bridge. ” – McCain

      A bridge to nowhere, perhaps?

    16. Cyril R. says:

      I like the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Not so much because it will accellerate implementation of renewables directly; we’ll get to the 20 percent renewables target anyways because some are very cost effective (eg wind). I like the RPS because it will put pressure on building and upgrading transmission because certain states can’t get to the 20% renewables without importing it. Really, transmission is the biggest technical hurdle in particular for wind. The wind generators themselves are lucrative and production will continue to ramp up swiftly. It’s the transmission that’s antiquated and not up to the generation profile of non-dispatchable generators like wind and solar. So the RPS will help induce more transmission buildout, in turn allowing wind to continue to grow quickly.

    17. David B. Benson says:

      Here is an easily locatable definition of

      alternative energy – energy derived from sources that do not use up natural resources or harm the environment.

    18. justwatching says:

      I just saw an artical here on Alt Energy News that methane gas was coming out of the Artic ocean at a very high rate. If this is true then it may already be to late to stop global warming and climate change.

    19. Ronald says:

      strategy and tactics

      it’s sometimes hard to separate the two and sometimes the same thing is different things to the people doing them. I might get an order that’s a tactic and then my orders to do it are strategies.

    20. Alexander says:

      Wind power is not a solution.
      The whole truth about wind turbines is never told by lobbyists and governments.
      How could the very weak and extremely unreliable initial energy source of a wind turbine ever produce a steady power of any significance, despite the fact that modern wind turbines are really sophisticated machines?
      Please think!
      And read: “Wind energy- the whole truth” at:

    21. shop says:

      I had said I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a question on energy tonight. What I should have said is that I wouldn’t be surprised if McCain repeated his big energy lie, that he supports alternative energy, which of course he never has.