Green McCain? Where Are the Votes?

Republican Presidential candidate John McCain has fought hard for many years to convince the media and voters that he is a "maverick." This is no easy task. Within the Republican party, nothing is more highly valued than cohesiveness and loyalty to GOP principles. If McCain wanted to continue receiving support from his party while appearing "independent" to the voters, he had to pull out a few tricks.

Apparently one of McCain's favorite tricks is simply failing to vote in Congress on issues he claims to support on the campaign trail. This allows him to talk from both sides of his mouth. He can tell voters he supports particular policies, while doing nothing in the Senate to help progress these policies. 

One policy area that suffers the most from McCain's maverick game is the environment. 

Earlier this year, the League of Conservation Voters released their annual scorecard of elected officials' records on environmental legislation. On the 2007 scorecard, the League graded McCain a 0%. The last year he scored in the single digits was in 1999-2000, the other time he ran for President. Why did the League give McCain such a dismally low score in 2007? Because he simply failed to vote, at all, on any of the 15 pieces of important legislation the League used to gauge environmental leadership. If you think the League's scoring was partisan, simply look to Republican Senator Susan Collins' 100% rating or Democratic Representative Dan Boren's 15% rating.

The League of Conservation Voters was not the only organization that noted McCain's failure to take a position in the Senate on environmental priorities.  Republicans for Environmental Protection noted that McCain missed all 14 of the votes on which they scored Senators for environmental leadership. They refused to give McCain a 0% for his performance, however, because they felt it was unfair to judge busy presidential candidates on the same scale as their Senate colleagues. Of course Hillary Clinton was able to attend many of these votes and received a 73% from the League of Conservation Voters, while Barack Obama received a 67%.

Lets drill down a little further to see more examples of McCain's lack of action in the Senate on environmental legislation. 

On February 6th, the Senate was preparing to vote on an expanded economic stimulus package that included tax credits for clean energy development. Hours before the vote, McCain landed at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC with plenty of time to participate in the vote. When asked whether he would get to the Senate and participate in the vote, he told reporters he didn't know if he could make it and that he had other meetings to attend. That stimulus package failed to meet the 60 votes necessary to pass cloture in the Senate...by one vote. The next day, a similar version of the economic stimulus package came to a vote in the Senate, without clean energy incentives. McCain voted for the revised package and it passed. 

To add insult to injury, the Sierra Club encouraged its members to contact McCain's office and complain about his failure to support clean energy incentives in the original economic stimulus package. His staff routinely lied about his vote and told callers that he has, in fact, supported the version of the package with clean energy incentives. When pressed by the Sierra Club and the media about their claims, McCain's staff simply said he would support clean energy incentives in the future. You can read the Sierra Club's claims HERE.

Another example of McCain's favorite campaign trick can be found in his flip-flop on the Climate Security Act, which is coming up for a vote in a few days. Back on May 9th, McCain was traveling around the country telling voters that he would be progressive on environmental issues, specifically global warming. With Joe Lieberman at his side, he promised he'd support the Lieberman-Warner global warming bill (the Climate Security Act) saying, "I hope it will pass and I hope the entire Congress will join in supporting it and the President of the United States would sign it." Yet, on May 28th he completely changed his tune and claimed that because the bill doesn't include enough funding for nuclear energy development, he would not come to the floor of the Senate and vote on it.

Now, I hope you are ready to dive into the minutiae a little further because McCain's complicated views on this Climate Security Act get even stranger with some additional research. On may 21st, a week before McCain said he wouldn't vote for the bill because of its lack of nuclear energy subsidies, Congress Daily reported that Lieberman and Warner were offering up an amendment to their bill that would greatly expand investment in nuclear energy development. The amendment will allow Senators to go on record supporting both nuclear subsidies and the Climate Security Act, a compromise one might think McCain could support, given his recent comments. However, he still will not participate in any of the votes relating to the Climate Security Act when the issue comes to the floor on June 2nd. 

With all the passion McCain displayed when making his public commitments to the environment on the campaign trail, you would think he could find time to vote on environmental legislation in the Senate. Apparently being a maverick is too burdensome to keep your promises. Or maybe McCain is being a little disingenuous with the voters.

Below are links to the sites where I obtained the information in this post...

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