During the State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, I was sitting in the press gallery above the chamber and had a bird's-eye-view of the Congresspeople spread out below -- and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) was one of the very first to leap to his feet and cheer when President Obama proclaimed, "I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy." I was also in the room during the House Energy and Commerce hearing on the Solyndra failure with DOE Secretary Chu last November, when Waxman accused Republicans of toadying up to powerful fossil-fuel allies, willfully ignoring climate change, and "dancing on Solyndra's grave" to create a White House scandal -- it got heated, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) had to remind certain Democrats that "this is not a hearing on solar energy," but rather the misuse and abuse of taxpayer dollars.
Rep. Waxman was at it again on Wednesday -- trying to make Republicans look like apple-polishing servants to wealthy corporate interests, this time by bringing in the Koch brothers. During a House Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing on a bill that would give a federal commission power to essentially sidestep the President and approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Rep. Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Kent.) had a rather testy exchange:
Yikes, that got real. I'd imagine Rep. Whitfield was so visibly frustrated with the Democrats' request to subpoena the Koch brothers because, whether or not they have an interest in the project (and I honestly have no idea if that's the case), Rep. Waxman has demonstrated a remarkable ability to completely miss the point: so what? Are private companies no longer allowed to invest in the development of domestic energy? And are we now supposing that President Obama was not-at-all influenced in the political contributions he'd sacrifice from the environmental lobby if he had approved the project? President Obama's own handpicked Jobs Council recommended that he quickly move forward with Keystone, and everyone can agree that doing so would create bring in jobs and wealth -- and Waxman's attempt to distort the Republicans' position as a mere extension of greeeeedy monied interests is a pathetic distraction, at best.