Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not Satisfied With Wasting Energy, GOP Wastes Time As Well

While the Grand Old Party - that's what it stands for, not "Gas & Oil Party," like everybody thinks - was spinning its wheels, sending mixed signals on whether it wanted to destroy the world by not raising America's debt ceiling and causing a catastrophic cascade failure in the global financial markets, or to just let President Barack Obama do any darned thing he wanted with it, House Republicans were set to tackle something really, really important for The American People, aka the Koch brothers and Rush Limbaugh.

Or not. Just as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) proposal to let the President just raise the debt ceiling any old time he wanted so long as he promised to cut spending - without actually requiring the spending he promised to cut be cut - would, if enacted, reduce the interminable rounds of debt ceiling haggling to the most egregious waste of time in the history of egregiousness, the House Republicans' shadow puppet show over destroying the thundering, evil, malicious threat of the heinous twisty Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb was, in fact, just another excruciating, if less interminable, waste of time.

Rep. Joe Barton's (R-TX, where else?) HR 2417, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act of 2011 (BOOB - no wait - BULB, sorry), a dim attempt to rid America of the horrible twisty illuminators, was scheduled for a House vote Monday. Or whenever. Well, it was set for Monday, but after an exhaustive 40-minute debate, the vote was postponed, although it was not immediately known whether that was just because it was getting dark, and everyone was too frightened of the twisty bulbs to try turning them on.

However, Barton's BOOB, sorry, BULB bill, had been sent for its floor vote under the "suspension of rules" rule, which meant it required a two-thirds vote to pass, and since none of the Democrats lounging around the deepening gloom were afraid of the twisty bulbs, BULB hadn't had any chance of being turned on anyway.

While we all ponder the arcane existence of a rule used when rules were suspended, it should be pointed out that even if BULB had been lit up in the House, it would certainly have been killed (get it? lights? killed?) in the Senate, where the Democratic majority had no fear of curly illuminators. And, in the interminably unlikely event it got through the Senate, President Obama would have vetoed it anyway (ha! you though I was going to say "turn out the lights" or something), in deference to the only halfway decent thing George W. Bush ever did, namely signing the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which marked the ascendancy of helically enhanced lighting.

Republicans, in case anybody hadn't been keeping track of the box score, have for years had their collective panties in a bunch over the looming menace of Compact Fluorescent Lights, and everyone from Rush Limbaugh (yes, he's still alive) to Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has had a Brain-from-Pinky-and-the-Brain-esque obsession with doing away with the Horrors From Home Depot.

Using CFLs and LED lights could, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, an outfit listed under "A" for "Anathemas" in the Big Republican Handbook of Spells and Demons, yearly save American households upwards of $200, and prevent 100 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, as though such things were of any importance to folks making $9 billion a quarter and Global Climate Change wasn't some sort of scientifically-concocted fairly tale.

So, it was no wonder the You-Know-Whats were immediately identified for ex-communication or exorcism or whatever Evangelicals do with Unspeakable Horrors. After all, anything preventing 100 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere obviously first prevented the burning of hundreds of millions of tons of whatever fossil fuel one had to burn before one got 100 million tons of carbon dioxide, which would understandably be enough to give any Koch brother palpitations. Republicans and their benefactors launched a lengthy, thorough, and no doubt excruciatingly expensive disinformation campaign against the bulbs.

Rupert Murdoch took valuable time from rummaging through people's voicemails to unleash Fox News talking heads Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Steven Milloy, both on Fox News and as the "junk science" guru under the auspices of the Koch brothers' Competitive Enterprise Institute, screamed about the devastating health effects and impending ecological disaster the tiny, tiny amounts of mercury in CFLs threatened to wreak. Bachmann, to no one's surprise, in 2008 drafted HR 5616 to do away with They That Shall Remain Unlit, but, doubtless due to meddling by some bespectacled English kid with a lightening-bolt scar on his face, the bill went nowhere.

And now, the current iteration of the Grand Obsessed Party's grand plan to save America from efficient lighting appeared to face the same ignominious descent into that long good night.

Even anti-CFL Republicans considered the bill with some humor. "Here's the bottom line," quipped Rep. Micheal Burgess (R-TX), "those of us of a certain age, under a Compact Fluorescent Light, we don't look as good as we do under an incandescent bulb."

The battle against You Know Whats appeared to be progressing much like anything else coming out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Of the 417 bills and resolutions referred to that august body, only 12 have gotten to the House Floor, and none have gotten to the President, pretty much making the whole enterprise a gigantic waste of time and, well, energy.

Fortunately for Republicans, Bushy old George had left the grand old partiers a bone for their wrinkled countenances. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 continues to permit incandescent bulbs of less than 40 watts, for oldsters between botox tuneups seeking forgiving lighting, and more than 150 watts, for coal magnates worried that people wouldn't be able to meet their lighting needs while consuming as much energy as humanly possible.

Update: As expected, BULB Tuesday failed to garner the required two-thirds vote for passage. The measure received 233 yeas and 193 nays. Five Democrats voted for the bill, and 10 Republicans voted against it.

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