Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, May 30, 2008

Warmies Seek To "Pombo-ize" Congress

What are the chances of New Mexico getting impacted by global warming spawned rising oceans? Zero -- no, less than zero. But that doesn't stop the propagandists at the Defenders of Wildlife from using it to try to knock off Republicans, just as the knocked off Richard Pombo in 2006.

They're running this ad against New Mexico Republican Steve Pearce:

Here's a partial transcript:
Little girl: This is my congressman, Steve Pearce. (points to man with head stuck into the ground) He cares so much about my future he’s going to get his head out of the sand and help stop global warming.

Pearce: (pulls his head out with a "thwok" sound) No, I’m not. Little girl, we don’t need to do anything about global warming.

Little girl: Then why are you melting?

Pearce: I’m not melting. I feel fantastic. It’s not hot.

Little girl: (as the sea begins to engulf them) That’s because the sea level is rising around us.

Pearce: No, it’s not. Prove it. Stop being hysterical. The rising sea stuff, that’s a theory. Like the theory of gravity.

Little girl: You don’t believe in gravity?

Pearce: Is all the evidence in? I don’t think so.
It's all ludicrous, of course. New Mexico is already hot enough to melt steel, it has no oceans and Pearce, by all accounts, is a firm believer in gravity. Besides, he's a chrome-dome, no neatly coiffed silver lobbyist-cut on him.

So what crime did Pearce commit that is so onerous the Greenies are after him in the primaries? (He's running against Heather Wilson, also a Greenie target, for a chance to run against the more green-tinted Tom Udall for Pete Domenichi's Senate seat.) Oh, really radical offenses, like saying stuff like this:
It is a crucial period for New Mexico and energy production. We must reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy from countries headed by oppressive dictators. Our country is in need of greater domestic supply. On the House Natural Resources Committee I have been a leader in making renewable and alternative forms of energy a high priority.

We must also look to make our traditional sources of energy, such as oil and coal, environmentally friendly. Through our domestic supplies of oil shale and coal alone, we could significantly reduce our need for foreign sources energy. But we must do so in a way that considers the environmental impact of retrieving those resources.
Yup. Nasty. As High Country News puts it,
This 60-second animation was the first salvo fired by the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund in its battle against New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce and five other Republican lawmakers, over their support for carbon-intensive fossil fuel industries.
Pearce is being targeted strategically by the Greenies:
"We’ve found over the past seven years that science, law and policy analysis are not enough -- we have to change the decision-makers. So we’re focusing on members of committees that matter," says Fund director Rodger Schlickeisen, who hopes to tip the balance in Congress toward "a significant piece of legislation that redirects our energy policy away from fossil fuels."
Pearce is on the Natural Resources Committee, and the Greenies don't want any views on that Committee opposing their view that natural resources aren't really resources, they're just natural stuff to keep your hands off. The Defenders of Wildlife spent about $2.5 million in the 2006 election cycle, $1.5 million on its successful effort to knock off Richard Pombo. This year, it's expected they'll have $3 million to target key GOP committee members.

Unfortunately, this kind of challenge is very difficult to fight. With few exceptions, there are no national groups that can take up the cause of a Pearce or a Wilson, and they're so underfunded they can't compete against a big Greenie group like Defenders of Wildlife. Besides, even if a counter-attack were mounted, the Greenies would just point to energy company funding of the effort and demand that voters dismiss the ad as not credible -- as if their ad were credible, as if they're not just as biased by the truckfuls of money they collect from anti-energy interests.

This calls for what I call train wreck communications. We keep trying to apply the brakes of course, but public opinion is driving us at full speed into a major crash. Since that's the case, we fight defensive battles to protect those we love (those nice coal miners and oil drillers, for example), and prepare ourselves for when the crash happens. Then, we'll be ready to redirect a suddenly disillusioned public onto a safer track.

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