Paul Andersen: Fair Game
June 14, 2011
The Republican Party loves freedom, but the freedom to appear foolish? That should not be a GOP platform, yet U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican from Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seems to revel in it. In Aspen last week, Tipton played the fossil fool at the Republican Lincoln’s Day fundraiser, with choice comments from the Aspen Daily News.
“I drive an F-150,” announced Tipton. “And that’s not even my big truck.” Tipton complained about the high price of a fill-up, which is all the evidence he apparently needs to support a “Drill, baby, drill!” policy on public lands.
Tipton informed his Aspen audience: “We are having a back-door tax increase because of a failed American policy to be able to create a real energy solution right here in this country and to be able to stand up for the American consumer.”
Tipton’s “energy solution” is exploiting Western landscapes for cheap fuel. As for standing up for the American consumer, his drilling fervor represents a transfer of public resources into private profits. Toss in the wasteful use of energy in the gas-guzzling icon of male machismo – the pickup – and you’ve got a portrait of pillage.
Tipton exhibits high school bravado with this public display of unawareness, but that’s in keeping with the dumbing-down of the energy debate by an intellectually and ethically challenged Congress that won’t even discuss climate change.
Tipton reportedly claimed some of the credit for U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s backing off of “wildlands” designations that would have blocked energy exploration on some BLM lands. “We need to actually be able to develop those resources,” Tipton said, “and I will push for that because I am talking to too many people that are suffering at the gas pump right now.”
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People wouldn’t be suffering so at the pumps if they considered gas mileage when buying a vehicle. Perhaps the most unbearable suffering Tipton projected is the notion of weaning himself from the throaty rumble of an oversized pickup that usually hauls nothing but its lone driver.
Part of my outrage at Tipton’s glaring ineptitude as a congressional leader and GOP role model comes from having attended the recent Aspen Institute Environment Forum, where climate activists have been clawing for a foothold on the slippery slope of national denial.
How Tipton can inhabit the same planet is proof that a parallel universe exists where aliens are doing their utmost to sabotage the positive steps of scientists who are grappling with world climate events for which Tipton’s personal truck fleet is directly responsible. The only thing I can conclude is that Tipton’s recent lobotomy was a complete success – with the removal of his entire brain!
Tipton should have attended the Environment Forum, where he would have learned that climate change is linked to fuel consumption. Instead, he pandered to his political base with the passive-aggressive message that eco-vandalism via fossil-fuel gluttony is an empowering behavior.
It is difficult enough making progress in stemming the flood tide of carbon emissions without Tipton making light of our national energy addiction. Tipton’s F-350 mentality is poignant given that American families are spending 1 of every 11 dollars they earn on fuel because the U.S. fleet average has increased only an abysmal 2 miles per gallon since 1990. As energy analyst Randy Udall puts it, “The biggest threat to the middle class is parked in the garage.”
That Tipton boasts openly about his hoggish fuel consumption speaks volumes to his apparent lack of self discipline and stubborn disregard for the public welfare. Tipton comes across as a flat earth cornucopian with a “my truck is bigger than your truck” complex. He is stuck in a time warp with a boyish mindset that assumes a big truck is an American birthright, regardless of the consequences.
Such a feckless consumer choice reveals that there’s no underestimating the free market’s willingness to sell irrational goods to clueless consumers. A deeper revelation is Tipton’s simplistic, naïve, and long outmoded world view on wasting natural resources while messing up the environment, the regressive revival of which has a strangely visceral appeal to the mainstream GOP.
Tipton obviously suffers from a terminal Republican affliction, indicative of the “A” grade he received from the National Rifle Association. It is more sobering still to know that he has been elevated to serve on the Natural Resources Committee and the Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry.
Where does the GOP draft primordial relics like Tipton if not from the deepest peat bog at Ziegler Reservoir?