NEW YORK, New York -- And the winner is...
Dr. Steven Chu, President-elect Obama's Nobel Prize-winning nominee for Energy Secretary, and the man behind the latest Obama Cabinet disappointment.
Chu, who seems to be on top of things when it comes to recognizing the economic, geopolitical and environmental risks of fossil fuels, played to the Republitards in his Senate confirmation hearings yesterday.
Though the nominee has previously supported higher gasoline taxes (the only way to materially change Americans' driving habits and make the electric cars Congress is ordering Detroit to make marketable) and called coal his "worst nightmare," he did something of an about-face when confronted by knuckle-dragging Republican Senators from coal-producing states. Acting like the political animal many hoped he wasn't, Chu not only said gas taxes were "off the table" but added that he would support mythical "clean coal" and the quixotic quest for carbon storage technology to conveniently tuck away emissions from coal-burning plants ... under the earth. "Clean coal"? Really? Buy that one and I have a magical lute I can sell you that I saw in my Zelda game. I'd rather see Chu, and our government, jousting at windmills, in the most literal sense.
At this point, I can only ask how this guy differs substantially from Exxon McMobil, or whoever Bush's Energy Secretaries were (OK, it's Sam Bodman, not Exxon McMobil, but what's the difference, really?). Clean coal, cheap gasoline. No, we can't.
With so few smart people in politics, here's hoping Dr. Chu -- who seems to be one of them, without a doubt -- was just playing political games and intends to stay intellectually honest, and that he wasn't gaming up his own views with politics.
P.S. Walter Duranty promises (many) gas tax posts in the future, given that this is one of the most important policies America needs to embrace. Right, Dr. Chu? Or are you off "clearing brush" now?
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