You can't blame the Democrats for hurrying to enact their hot-air legislation. The public is finally paying attention, recognizing the global warming crisis for what it is, a giant scam that will cost every American plenty. The globe isn't warming - it's actually cooling, in fact - and there's no crisis.
The only "crisis" Thursday in Washington was what to do with Al Gore. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had invited the ex-veep to Washington to appear Friday with senior Democrats to make a last-minute appeal for votes for the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Note there's not a word about "global" or "warming" in the title of the legislation. Once you stink up perfectly good words, you have to find new ones. (That's why liberals now call themselves "progressives.")
Mrs. Pelosi canceled Al's invitation late Wednesday night because one of his signature rants - "the sky is falling, the earth is melting" - would likely harm, not help her cause. Mrs. Pelosi said she would prefer to have Al making harmless telephone calls from his palatial house in Tennessee, and an aide says she doesn't want him "in the air for five and half hours" when he could be sitting down outside Nashville dialing for votes. (She presumably sent him a prepaid calling card.)
"It's a question of what was energy efficient for the vice president," she said. "We were narrowing the list of undecideds. We had a great narrowing of the undecideds."
Given the size of their margins in Congress, the effort to pass the global warming bill shouldn't even be close. But it is. President Obama, who imagined only yesterday that he could remain royally aloof atop Mount Olympus, parsing his favorite Urdu poetry for Islamic insights, had to step out into 91-degree heat Thursday to make still another pitch to the undecideds.
"We've been talking about this issue for decades," he said. "Now is the time to act." Quickly, before the globe cools even more than it has over the past decade, he didn't dare to say.
Despite all the pressure the speaker and her flacks and minions can exert on reluctant Democrats, a considerable number of Democratic congressmen who know better and understand that their constituents are learning better every day, are reluctant to walk the plank. They don't look forward to explaining to the home folks later why their congressman voted to squeeze the life out of their communities with the largest tax increase in history.
Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, the partner in this crime with Rep. Henry Waxman of California, jokes that the global warming tax will cost every American family only $175 a year, "no more than a postage stamp a day." That's just for starters; the tax rises every year. But the tax won't rise dramatically until the year 2020, when Messrs Markey and Waxman and a lot of their colleagues are counting on being safely dead, beyond human punishment.
Like most good scams, cap and trade as outlined in the Markey-Waxman legislation is simple. The government sets a cap on how much pollution the nation's factories, cars (and flatulent cows) are allowed to expel into the atmosphere. Companies can buy, sell or trade their emissions, or lack thereof. (If the cows must be cited for violations, Al Gore, a onetime tobacco farmer, can measure the barnyard effluvium.)
But the most acute pain will be the rising costs of everything as companies pass the effects of the tax on to consumers. Nobody knows this better than Mrs. Pelosi and her merry band of robbers. When this far-reaching legislation was debated in the House Energy Committee, the Republicans offered amendments to suspend the legislation if the price of gasoline exceeds $5 a gallon, if the price of electricity rises more than 10 percent over 2009, and if the unemployment rate, now hovering close to 9 percent, exceeds 15 percent. The Democrats, who know very well the devastation this "biggest tax increase in history" is likely to wreak on American families, nevertheless defeated all three amendments.
Hypocrisy, as we know, is the tribute vice pays to virtue, and nobody is louder in tribute than certain Democrats. Just before the Gores moved into the vice presidential residence on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, they were invited by Marilyn and Dan Quayle to inspect the premises. Tipper Gore was disappointed to see that the fireplace in the master bedroom had been closed.
"Well," Mrs. Quayle told her, "the fireplace is wasteful and contributes to pollution."
"Oh, I know," Tipper replied. "But a fireplace in the bedroom is so cozy." When the Quayles moved out, the fireplace was reopened.