MINNEAPOLIS, MN (with apologies to The Onion) — Though Tim Pawlenty is considered to be a contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, the national spotlight has forced him to repeatedly confront a major skeleton in his political closet: that as governor of Minnesota he once tried to help reduce pollution.
Pawlenty, who “aggressively led state, regional, and national efforts to promote cap-and-trade legislation and pushed through one of the country’s toughest renewable-energy mandates,” has said “it was a mistake” to give sick kids the opportunity to see fewer asthma attacks in their lifetime, admitting that helping to cut pollution remains a dark cloud hovering over his political career, and his biggest obstacle to becoming president of the United States of America.
“Every day I am haunted by the fact that I gave Minnesota citizens a chance to look forward to cleaner air and a climate that doesn’t resemble El Paso, Texas,” Pawlenty told reporters Sunday, adding that he feels ashamed whenever he looks back at how he forged bipartisan support to help advance pollution-free sources of energy that never run out. “Nobody’s perfect…. If you’ve been in an executive position, you’re going to have some battle scars. You’re going to have a few clunkers in your record. None bigger, of course, than trying to preserve a livable climate for our children and grandchildren — not just here but also in the poorest of countries around the world. That’s my cross to bear.”
“My hope is that Republican voters will one day forgive me for trying to end our addiction to imported oil, which costs us $1 billion a day, some of which ends up in the hands of countries that seek to harm us,” Pawlenty added. “It was a mistake, and I’m sorry.”
According to Pawlenty, if he could do things over again, he would do everything he could to make certain that pollution soared — not just in Minneapolis but throughout the country and the world. Promising his days of trying to provide help to those with asthma are behind him, Pawlenty said that if elected president, he would never even think about increasing anyone’s quality of life or trying to create clean energy jobs.
In addition, Pawlenty repeatedly apologized for wanting to help people suffering from any sort of cardiopulmonary disease.
“I don’t know what got into me back then,” Pawlenty said. “Wanting to slash statewide fossil-fuel consumption 15%. Requiring the state’s utilities to generate 25% of their electricity from sources such as wind and solar by 2025. All I can say is that I was young and immature, and I am not that person anymore.”
“The only solace I can take is in the hope that some of the folks I tried to help were kids and they don’t vote anyway,” Pawlenty added.
Though Pawlenty has apologized profusely, Beltway insiders said he would need to distance himself from his I-tried-to-cut-pollution image. Sources noted that Pawlenty’s current promise to make the air dirtier is a step in the right direction, but might not be enough.
“The major strike against Tim Pawlenty is that he not only tried to promote clean energy, he actually did increase the use of solar and wind power,” conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg said. “No other Republican in the field has that type of baggage. And in the end, in order to defeat President Obama, the GOP needs someone who has a track record of never wanting clean air or clear water or clean energy.”
Thus far, Pawlenty is polling poorly in early primary states like New Hampshire and Iowa, and Republican strategists and voters agree that even in a general election, his sordid past would continue to dog him.
“I don’t think I can vote for someone like that,” Pennsylvania Republican Eric Tolbert said. “He says he’s sorry, but how do I know that’s the real Tim Pawlenty? What happens if he gets elected and tries to help cut pollution again?”
“I like Michele Bachmann now,” Tolbert added. “Because what this country needs is a president who doesn’t give a f$!# about helping people.
— Joe Romm [and yes, this is a shameless adaptation of a priceless piece from America’s Finest News Service, “Mitt Romney Haunted By Past Of Trying To Help Uninsured Sick People.” Some quotes are not genuine, whereas others are from last week’s piece in the National Journal, “Pawlenty: Running from His Past Moves on Environmental Policy.”]