Before BP’s oil spill disaster, right-wing lawmakers constantly outperformed each other in a battle to be the most anti-government zealot when it came to energy policy. For instance, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) claimed that energy efficiency standards would set up a “global warming Gestapo” and attacked the administration’s czars who have unbridled powers.” Now, as his state is “in a war” with a black tide of oil, Scalise is complaining the federal government hasn’t done enough to deal with the spill, and has attacked President Obama for not coming in and “tak[ing] over.”
On Wednesday, ThinkProgress spoke with Scalise about his change in rhetoric, and asked if BP’s spill has changed his perception of the role of government. Scalise saw no cognitive dissonance in likening proactive government policies to Nazi Germany, while complaining that not enough government action is a lack of “leadership.” Scalise instead said merely that everyone wants “competent government”:
TP: You criticized the federal government for, you know, not doing enough given the spill in the gulf. But just a couple of months ago, you were saying that the EPA bureaucrats are like the Gestapo. Has the spill changed your perception of the role of government?
SCALISE: Well what it shows is that you’ve got incompetent government right now. MMS, who is the federal regulator, has not been doing their job. What we’re asking is, whether you’re for bigger government or smaller government, we ought to be able to expect competent government. And unfortunately we haven’t gotten that. People need to do their jobs.
One might question whether Scalise himself — who believes the “Climategate” conspiracy theory about the world’s scientific community, and voted against the stimulus but touted the jobs it created in his district — meets the standard of “competent government.”
Scalise is hardly the only anti-government critic now demanding government action in the wake of BP’s spill. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) warned her constituents that living in D.C. placed her “behind enemy lines,” and that people should get “armed and dangerous” to prepare for clean energy policies. But now, Bachmann is ranting that the government didn’t do enough, and that Obama should have “commandeered” boats to deal with BP’s crisis. In March, Sarah Palin decried Obama’s “transformation of America into some kind of socialized country.” Now she wants a government that “regulates oil developments and holds oil executives accountable” and federal criminal investigations to end “oily corruption.”