GOP energy protest puts politics before policy

An anonymous caller just called to bend my ear in none too polite a tone about whether we’ll have coverage in the paper about the “filibuster” Republicans are undertaking in Congress “to lower our gas prices.”

I noted that it’s not a filibuster; “I know what it is,” he snapped back. “Is there going to be coverage?”

“I don’t know, sir, I’ll have to check with my editors to see if they’re planning to pick up a story…”

“Ah, the powers that be,” he sneered, before I could explain that I don’t pick all the stories that go into the paper; we don’t have a Washington, D.C. bureau; and editors here choose from a wide range of wire stories to fill our ever-thinning news hole each day.

He berated me for several minutes about the need to spread word of what’s happening.

OK, here goes…

From The Hill:

The White House has rejected calls from House Republicans that it convene a special session of Congress on energy, saying it wouldn’t make a difference.


About 20 House Republicans re-launched their floor action after a short press conference where no questions were taken. The speeches to visitors and staff in the House gallery began at about 10 a.m. Monday.

In an attempt to build momentum and steer more listeners into the chamber, GOP leadership staff sent e-mails to colleagues encouraging them to bring their tours to view the protest.

Speeches have varied from the mundane to the raucous, with Rep. Don Manzullo’s (R-Ill.) impassioned pro-drilling speech ending with hugs from colleagues and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Some members came with props: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) came to speak with a large photo of Pelosi with the words “I am trying to save the planet” written beneath it. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) arrived with an empty red gas can and an energy-efficient light bulb.

To hear House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, tell it, “House Republicans have returned to the Capitol today and resumed the historic protest that began spontaneously Friday, when dozens of House Republicans refused to leave the House floor and joined hundreds of American citizens to protest Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) decision to adjourn the House for the rest of the summer without a vote on legislation to increase American energy production and lower gas prices.”

To hear Pelosi, D-San Francisco, tell it: “Democrats offered a real solution to high energy prices that would bring immediate relief within 10 days by forcing the President to free our oil from the nation’s stockpile. The Republicans propose to giveaway public lands to Big Oil, which will not immediately reduce the price at the pump and save Americans only 2 cents 10 years from now. This Republican hoax is unworthy of the serious debate we must have to reduce the price at the pump and promote energy independence.”

So, if Republicans orating to passers-by in the House gallery today — like the impassioned Steve King, for example — have previously voted against halting the filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve; against releasing some light crude from the SPR; against tax incentives for renewable energy research and development; against stronger vehicle efficiency standards; against repealing subsidies for oil companies reaping record profits; against requiring oil companies to develop or relinquish their existing oil leases before getting new ones; against excessive energy–futures speculation; and so on, what shall we say about today’s “drill more, drill now” protest? Serious policy, or election-year kabuki? You tell me.

Thanks for the call, sir.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Susan

    I feel your pain, but you would have to live in Iowa to feel mine. Steve King is a daily embarrassment, a human gaffe machine, a poster child for everything that is wrong with the small group of rightwingers in Congress who are more interested in grandstanding and spouting ideology than in solving problems.

    King has a great progressive opponent, Rob Hubler.

  • John Cook

    As one of Steve King’s western Iowa constituents, I am continually embarrassed by his antics. Fortunately, we have a good candidate running against him this year: Rob Hubler. Maybe Hubler can do to Steve King what Jerry McNerney did to Pombo in 2006.

  • Peggy

    I, too, am one of Steve King’s constituents and, along with many, many of his supporters, couldn’t care less about what some hate journalist in the Bay Area, especially the biased Josh Richman, thinks of my Congressman: