Thursday, October 22, 2009

R?S? Presents: Build Your Own Clean Energy Attack

As regular readers of R?S? know, we aren't quick to take any one particular attack on clean energy too seriously. What matters is the sheer litany of them (after all, to clean energy critics, it's quantity - not quality - that matters).

With that in mind, we thought we'd offer a bit of a shout-out to our friends on the other side with our helpful guide to Build Your Own Clean Energy Attack! Follow these steps to gain insta-pundit fame in the Big Oil/special interest echo chamber:

1. Decide that you're opposed to clean energy and climate reform, and want to attack it.

This is a critical but often-overlooked first step. It usually involves serious ties to Big Oil, Dirty Coal and their special-interest allies in Washington. For example:

No harm from cap-and-trade? You lie! (The Hill, 10/20/09)
By Don L. Blankenship

Blankenship is chairman and CEO of Massey Energy Co.
Massey Energy would be the nation's fourth largest coal company. (Also, bonus points for channeling wingnut folk hero Joe Wilson!) Alternatively, you could go with the something more subtle:

Climate Assumptions From Another Planet (IBD, 10/15/09)
By Roy Innis and Paul Driessen

Innis is national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality. Driessen is senior policy advisor for CORE and the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.
That sounds legit, right? Sure, except for the tens of thousands of dollars CORE and the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow have taken from ExxonMobil and Chevron. (Crazy extra credit: Innis was a big Lyndon LaRouche supporter in 2008).

Absent these ties, you see, the odds just aren’t in your favor for opposing clean energy reform. Polling shows a vast majority of ordinary Americans favor reform, so you’ve got to be extraordinarily outside of the mainstream in order to do it.

2. Choose one (or several!) pre-packaged attacks produced by Big Oil think tanks or distorted by clean energy attackers

These "studies" are the meat and bones of clean energy smears, so feel free to continue using them after they have been thoroughly discredited by scientists, economists, media watchdogs and even the studies' authors themselves.

The Declan "I Don't Know My Own Job Title" McCullagh Attack: Clean energy and climate legislation will cost families $1,761 a year!!! Using some tricky math that would put Enron's accountants to shame, inflate the estimated cost of cap-and-trade to families by 1000%.

The MIT "I'm pretty sure we know what your study meant better than YOU do" Attack: No wait, clean energy and climate legislation will cost families more than $3,000!!! Misuse, misquote and generally misrepresent an MIT professor's climate study to the point that he attacks you - publicly. PS: This is when we first learned that PolitiFact.com had a rating called "Pants on fire!"

The Energy Citizens "Clean energy jobs aren't jobs" Attack: Clean energy and climate legislation will kill millions of jobs!!! Arrive at this figure by implying that jobs created in clean energy and energy efficiency don't count as jobs. No, really.

The Frank Luntz "Call anything we don't like a 'tax'" Attack: Cap-and-trade is really a "national energy tax"!!! [Hint: easily combined with hyper-inflated $3,000 cost figure and job loss claims!) Polls show people don't like taxes, so call cap-and-trade a "tax" even though taxation has nothing to do with the legislation. Handy monikers include "cap-and-tax" and, better, "crap-and-tax." Go wild!

...and our favorite, the "Our one scientist is better than your 3,200 scients from 130 nations" Attack: Global warming isn't happening and the Earth has cooled in the last ten years!!! We again refer you to the Frank Luntz approach to denying the settled science of global warming. Go forth, Truth Crusader.

**BONUS: Create your own smear** While you're on the attack, you might as well have fun with it! Claim that a climate bill would lead the government to forcibly confiscate your SUV, or implement a China-style "one child only" policy. Heck, call Obama a fascist or a communist (bonus points for saying he's both at once).

3. Promote your attack

Don't worry: when it comes to pushing clean energy smears, you'll never walk alone. Instead, you'll have a ready-made network of sympathetic media eager to turn your whopper into a mainstream story! For starters, give a call to...

Declan McCullagh at CBSNews.com: If his single-handed ability to create a media firestorm over an irrelevant, outdated analysis of a climate bill that was never under consideration is any indication, Declan's one of the most innovative clean energy smearers around.

The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal's opinion page, Investors' Business Daily: With print newspaper circulation on the decline, the sympathetic folks at the Special Interest Press may be even more willing than usual to smear your attacks all over their pages.

FOX News: In its seeming bid to become the QVC for promoting attacks on clean energy, healthcare reform and any other priority of the Obama administration, FOX has taken up a near-constant line of attack on climate reform. Here's a short clip from just one of its attack dogs, Glenn Beck.

Step 3 Extra Credit: Give your attack some ground legs

Do you happen to work at the American Petroleum Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, or another well-funded lobby group opposed to the climate bill? Use your massive resources to manufacture some Astroturf support, turning your rant into a movement in the eyes of the uncritical.

Step 4: Rinse, lather, repeat!

What's great about the clean energy smear strategy is that it requires little to no modification from one attack to the next: Big Oil will always have money, special-interest think tanks can always replace their debunked studies with new ones, and FOX News will always be... well, FOX News.

(PS: Isn't Build-a-Bear awesome?)

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