The final debate between the candidates for governor in California took place last night, and things seemed to get pretty heated. The topics tackled ranged from tax cuts to legalizing marijuana to Prop 23, the oil-funded effort to kill California's clean energy law. And the discussion on the latter was among the most spirited of the night. Meg Whitman denies opposing Prop 23 -- she had just kept silent on the issue -- and Jerry Brown looks like someone slipped some espresso into his decaf before the debate. Check out this brief, intense exchange:First of all, allow me to say that I'm thoroughly gladdened that Prop 23 has become too toxic for even Meg Whitman to support -- its popularity has been plummeting, but now its fall seems all but assured. I guess Californians just couldn't swallow the prospect of two Texas oil companies killing their state's forward-looking clean energy policy.
But notice how Whitman distances herself from the Proposition, which she now claims to oppose, while still embracing its implications -- she still wants to stall the state climate and clean energy law (AB 32) for a year, citing some bogus statistic claiming that allowing it to go forward would hurt 97% of California jobs. Which is, of course, patently ridiculous. The point is, however, that Whitman is still keen to parrot the bill's aims -- she still sides against stimulating the clean energy market and curbing emissions -- she just can't afford to publicly support a bill that's been tainted by Big Oil.
I hope that was clear over the course of the debate -- despite the fact that Jerry Brown breathlessly rattled off his responses like caffeine-injected talking points, he was right: Investors want certainty in the clean energy market, the study Whitman cited has been thoroughly debunked, and nobody loses out when you amp up energy efficiency. Stalling AB 32 would be pointless, and worse -- harmful to the growing clean energy sector.
More on Prop 23
Schwarzenegger Blasts "Black Oil Hearts" of Prop 23 Backers ...
Van Jones Takes on Prop 23 and Koch's Anti-Climate Campaign (Video)
Anti-Climate TV Ads Hits California, Loaded with Lies (Video)