Center for American Progress Action

Energy Industry Campaign Cash Fuels Straight Talk Express
Press Release

Energy Industry Campaign Cash Fuels Straight Talk Express

Our guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Republican Presidential nominee apparent John McCain brags about his leadership on climate change. He even taunted Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton when he said:

I don’t know what their position is because I haven’t seen them show any particular commitment in the U.S. Senate or elsewhere [on climate change]. I have proposed legislation and fought for amendments.

With all of his bragging about global warming, you would think Sen. McCain would be at the center of this week’s Senate’s debate over the Climate Security Act, sponsored by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and John Warner (R-VA). Unfortunately, he doesn’t plan to participate in the debate, and opposes the bill because it lacks big bucks to build nuclear power plants.

How come the Straight Talk Express can’t find the U.S. Senate for this critical debate?

Is it because Sen. McCain has received more money from the special interests that oppose this bill than all but one other member of the Senate? He has received close to $2 million from oil, coal, utility, auto, chemical and nuclear companies from the 1990 cycle to the first quarter of 2008

. In fact, of this total, McCain received nearly two-thirds of it — $1.2 million — since he began his presidential quest 18 months ago. And like Senator McCain, these interests and the trade associations they fund oppose the Climate Security Act.

Since McCain began running for president in 2007, he missed all the important clean energy votes. He did make sure to wink at big oil by announcing he would have supported its existing unjustified tax breaks had he been around. The bipartisan effort to close these loopholes failed by one vote. And after he missed the opportunity to become the deciding vote to extend tax incentives for efficiency and wind and solar power by adding it to the stimulus package, he gave a nod to big coal and huge utility conglomerates by announcing he would have opposed this measure too.

Sen. McCain plans to use his support for reductions in global warming pollution as a central element in his effort to distinguish himself from President Bush. On June 3rd, he proclaimed, “The next President must be willing to break completely with the energy policies not just of the Bush Administration, but the administrations that preceded his.” But Sen. McCain is a leader in campaign donations from the same interests who helped Bush write his energy plan that brought us $4 gallon gasoline. And like the Bush administration, he also opposes the Climate Security Act.

Frequently, Sen. McCain has lectured his colleagues about the corrupting nature of campaign contributions and lobbyists. He preached that “Our government must be free from corrupting influences, both real and perceived.” A large part of his reputation as a “maverick” rests on this issue. Yet his campaign is run by lobbyists. And he has received more campaign cash from big energy companies than 98 other senators, and then joins their opposition to the Climate Security Act. Sen. McCain appears to be nothing more than another senator influenced by special interests -– a prime example of the Washington influence system that he bemoans.

Read the full report with graphs: