No single politician since Ronald Reagan has done more to set back America’s leadership in clean technology than Newt Gingrich.
National Zoo plaque [click to enlarge, credit: J. Maskit]
Emperor Newt is pro-poison, that’s for sure (see “Gingrich proposes abolishing EPA” and Report Details How Fox News Fueled Newt Inc. and Pushed His “Drill Here, Drill Now” Agenda).
So it’s no surprise, he is also anti-antidote. In the 1990s, the Gingrich Congress tried to shut down the Department of Energy, slash all clean energy research, stop the joint government-industry effort to develop a superefficient hybrid car, and zero out all programs aimed specifically at reducing greenhouse emissions and accelerating technology deployment (for some history, see my 1996 Atlantic Monthly article and this 1997 article).
He didn’t succeed — but he did stop the significant expansion of clean energy funding Clinton-Gore had begun. And he did force the DOE to sharply scale back its programs aimed at clean energy deployment and GHG reduction.
A decade later he tried to pass himself as a friend to the environment. In 2007, he wrote A Contract with on the Earth. As I wrote at the time, if you look up the word ‘Orwellian’ on Wikipedia — “An attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past” — there should be a picture of Newt’s new book.
To cut to the chase, readers will not be surprised that a conservative pretending to care about the environment adopted the anti-regulation, pro-technology approach suggested by GOP strategist, Frank Luntz, and popularized by his protege, George Bush (see Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook: “Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah”).
Since Gingrich continues to push this misdirection, I’ll excerpt some of my earlier posts on Newt.