The climate bill has certainly spurred some heated debates and intense conflicts, inside the beltway and out. But one side isn't playing clean. Opponents of clean energy reform and climate action have pulled out all the stops since the climate debate began earlier this year. And not all of them have been legal. From crazy TV ads to well-crafted lies to downright forgeries, here are the 7 dirtiest tricks the opponents of clean energy reform have played so far this year.
1.Creating Fake Grassroots Groups
There are too many of these to name--though I tried to round up as many as possible. These groups sprout up when a large coal corporation decides that it's lacking a populist appeal for its cause--and then either hires an organizing company to found a group with a clever acronym (F.A.C.E.S. of Coal, Hot Air, and so on), or create one themselves. They then get their many employees to show up for 'rallies' or go on bus tours or ride in hot air balloons, so America can see all those 'real folks' protesting climate action. The notorious, and most visible operation is Energy Citizen, a 'grassroots' group started by the American Petroleum Institute takes most of the spotlight. But FACES of Coal, Hot Air, and America's Power Army have all been subjecting the country to coal-sponsored rallies--though they've often been described as more like company picnics than rallies--for too long.
Trick's Dirtiness: 7/10
While paying a company to organize groups of people to appear as though they're merely riled-up opponents of clean energy reform isn't a crime, it's certainly something of a dirty trick.
2. Distorting the Facts for Messaging
Although opposing GOP members have said a number of untruthful things about climate legislation, perhaps the most egregious one has been the party's willful distortion of how much the legislation will cost American families--which is now one of the opposition's primary talking points. The story behind the distortion is this: an MIT researcher published a study on the projected costs of the climate bill. GOP leadership used the paper to come up with a number for how much the climate bill would cost Americans: $3,100 a year. The MIT researcher heard them quoting the odd figure--which happened to be dead wrong--and citing his report. He then repeatedly tried to inform the Republicans to tell them that they were misreading his study--it wouldn't nearly cost American families that much to pay for the climate bill. Their response? "We stand by our analysis." And they've been using their faulty "interpretation" over and over.
Trick's Dirtiness: 8/10
It's unfortunately become a common practice in politics, and the media often validates it with its treatment of the strategy--but any way you cut it, lying to get your way is a dirty trick.
3. Repeating those Distortions
And over and over. After those 'distortions' had been revealed to be so, they stopped being merely distortions and more aptly can be known as flat out lies. Flat out lies that Republican politicians repeated so many times they started sounding like a the truth--or a nursery rhyme. Either way, anyone following the climate debate was forced to acknowledge and respond to the lie as an argument, creating the impression that it was a valid point. Say what you will about Republicans, they've got their messaging strategy down pat. Too bad it's a dirty and dishonest one in this case.
Media Matters has a full list of GOPers caught on record lying about the climate bill at their website.
Trick's Dirtiness: 9/10
Persistence isn't always admirable. These guys were proven to be lying--so why do they keep doing it? Because it works.
4. Misleading TV Ads
When the climate bill was just getting started in the House of Reps, some of the wealthiest men in America--among them David Koch (the richest man in New York City), the founder of Americans for Prosperity--ran some ridiculous ads portraying anyone who supports any kind of climate action as a good for nothing wealthy liberal with a bad haircut (and a weird penchant for having Ritz crackers served to them on a silver platter for some reason). Why the ads? Koch, and other backers of the AFP, have heavy investments in oil and coal. Anywho, the bogus ads have continued throughout the campaigning, like this odd gem of an ad courtesy of Newt Gingrich.
Trick's Dirtiness: 3/10
The ads may be bogus, but they're not overtly nasty as campaign ads go. More humorous than threatening, really.