President Obama's newly-announced EPA regulations on coal-fired electric plants are engendering opposition from red-state Democrats hoping to win crucial Senate elections this November. For her part, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who says she favors "reduc[ing] carbon in the atmosphere," criticized the president's end-run around the legislature. "Congress should set the terms, goals and timeframe" for the policy, she insisted in a statement quoted by The Hill newspaper.
But you'd know nothing about this if you only got your news from MSNBC's Hardball, where on his June 2 program, host Chris Matthews used the new EPA regs simply as an excuse to team up with two liberal guests -- Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Center for American Progress's Neera Tanden -- to blast Republicans as know-nothings on climate change who are motivated sheerly out of partisan animus in opposing the president's push for curbing carbon dioxide emissions. Matthews also worked in a swipe at the Left's favorite fraternal bogeymen, assailing the Koch brothers as moral monsters for "hurting the planet's health so they can have more money." [Listen to MP3 audio here; Watch video below page break]
"The New York times is calling it one of the biggest steps any American president has ever taken on climate change. President Obama has directed the EPA to come up with new rules to slash carbon emissions at all U.S. power plants by 30 percent by the year 2030," Matthews noted as he opened the segment, grousing "Republicans are predictably slamming the president's plan."
Matthews quickly turned to a Politico item that insisted that "leading conservatives have a new talking point on climate science: They're not qualified to talk about it" before turning to Van Hollen and Tanden for their predictable cheerleading of the president's regulatory move and to argue that the Democratic Party is concerned with combating climate change while the GOP simply doesn't give a rip at all about the environment out of partisan animus against Obama.
"Is it fair to say, Congressman, this is a sheerly partisan issue?" Matthews asked Van Hollen, to which the partisan liberal Democrat happily replied:
Unfortunately, yes. I think Democrats should lean in. Republicans still have their head in the sand, even on the most basic fact of the existence of climate change.
At that point, Matthews and company sought to psychoanalyze conservatives for their opposition to the president's regulatory push. Wondered Matthews:
Why would they plead ignorance? Is this to be able to say, well, we're not completely stupid, but we're not scientists, so, therefore we're covered. We don't have to have a position. What's the strategy of being dumb?
That last query could well be asked of Matthews, who is insulting the intelligence of his audience by pretending the controversy over EPA regulations is purely partisan when red-state Democrats who have histories of winning elections are challenging the president on the matter.
Of course, no piece on climate change would be complete without the mandatory swipe at the Left's favorite villains, the Koch Brothers:
NEERA TANDEN: But I think what we're seeing is a lot of special interest money in the guise of the Tea Party. The Koch brothers have a lot of
money invested in this.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let's talk about that. That is self-interest that I can understand. If you're in the oil and gas business, that's where you make your billions of dollars, you should get a tax writeoff practically, for all the money you spend on politics because you're basically protecting your tax status and your non-regulatory regime, where you don't have a regulatory regime. Right, Congressman? They're getting money out of
-- every time they give a buck to a Republican, they're basically guaranteeing themselves a better tax status, less regulation, and more money, more billions.
Rep. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Sure, I mean, that's why they've been plowing millions of dollars into these races all over the country because they want to maintain their economic position.
MATTHEWS: And pollute the planet!
VAN HOLLEN: Absolutely. If you're in the oil and gas industry, you're going to fight to keep your taxpayer-funded subsidies, you're going to keep all the anti-regulatory efforts that --
TANDEN: And their ability to pollute.
MATTHEWS: So you think they're trading the quality of life of this planet in perpetuity so their family has more money. They're selling the health of planet for their own economic good? Isn't that what they're doing? No, wait, yes or no?
TANDEN: I think the Koch brothers are actually making a return on investment here. They're spending a lot of money in these elections.
MATTHEWS: Let me put it down in moral terms, in moral terms. They're hurting the planet's health so they can have more money.
MATTHEWS to Van Hollen: Do you want to say that?
VAN HOLLEN: Maybe they've deluded themselves into thinking
MATTHEWS: Oh, don't play the I don't know game. They play the "I don't know" game!
VAN HOLLEN: Maybe they've deluded themselves, but that is the bottom line, yes.