With the Republicans winning control of the House of Representatives, the jockeying has begun to gain key committee chairmanships.Â One key committee is the House Energy and Commerce Committee, currently chaired by California Democrat Henry Waxman.Â In January, the new Republican chair will likely be either Joe Barton (TX), John Shimkus (IL), or Fred Upton (MI).
The choice between Barton and Shimkus ranks up there with Odysseus' choice between Scylla and Charybdis.Â Everyone is familiar with Joe Barton, who used his time during Congressional hearings to apologize to BP President Tony Hayward.Â Yes, apologized for the government asking BP to cover the costs of cleanup and lost economic livelihoods of Gulf coast residents impacted by the roughly 185 million gallons of oil that leaked following the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 men.Â I suppose this shouldn't have been a shock given that Barton comes from the oil-dependent state of Texas and receives significant campaign funding from the oil companies.
Shimkus is another bird altogether.Â His claim to fame is exclaiming that "God will decide when to end the Earth, not man," which Chris Wiegard talked about in an article a few days ago. This was during a climate change hearing in the House of Representatives.Â Notwithstanding his confusion about the difference between science and religion, science and policy, or global warming and Armageddon, apparently he believes that God doesn't mind at all that 7 billion (soon to be 9 billion) humans simply trash His creations.Â Even renters have an obligation for basic upkeep of the house they are occupying, even if someone else owns it.Â You can watch Shimkus in this clip...again, this is from a climate change science (not policy) hearing:
There is a third choice that Republicans could make.Â Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan is also being considered, and according to some may have the inside track.Â Not that Upton is likely to follow in Waxman's shoes by any means.Â Upton has questioned climate change...not the science per se, but whether any policy remedies proposed would reduce the global temperatures. Here he is at a recent meeting:
The interesting thing here is that Representative Barton (R-TX) seems to have declared an all-out war on Representative Upton (R-MI).Â According to Politico, apparently the Barton people have released a 22-page summary documenting all of Upton's votes in Congress, which are painted as "not conservative enough." They even call Upton a "part-time Republican" because he apparently had the audacity to actually vote "Yes" on something.Â And it doesn't stop there - conservatives are actually fighting Upton's appointment because three year's ago he cowrote language in a bill to encourage the switch to more efficient light bulbs.Â Yes, you heard correctly.Â Upton is being trashed by the right because he wants energy efficiency, and in the words of Rush Limbaugh "No Republican complicit in nannyism, statism, can be rewarded this way.â€
Seriously.Â He actually argued that the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee should not be in favor of energy efficiency.Â And that light bulbs are somehow attacks on our freedoms.
So which of these three will end up with the gavel is still uncertain.Â One is so deep in the pocket of big oil that he combs lint out of his silvery hair each morning.Â Another seems to have trouble with the whole separation of church and state thing.Â And the one guy who actually seems fairly sane is being attacked by his fellow Republicans because he once favored more energy efficient light bulbs.
You can't make this stuff up.
Â© David K, November 2010