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Cashin' In Panel Dukes It Out with Greenpeace in Verbal Battle Over Hillary Clinton's Environmental Platform

Reported by Marie Therese - November 12, 2007 -

On Saturday (11-10-07), during Cashin' In, host Terry Keenan introduced guest John Passacantando, Executive Director of Greenpeace, for a discussion of Hillary Clinton's environmental platform. It didn't take long before the volume level went way up. Passacantando remained calm and got most of his points across, but rabid "free marketers" Wayne Rogers and Jonathan Hoenig were almost apoplectic while "green" supporters Dagen McDowell and hubby, Jonas Max Ferris, loudly proclaimed their own approach to the issue of jobs and the green agenda. Terry Keenan had her hands full trying to control the group. With video.

Libertarian Jonathan Hoenig opened the segment with his usual argument that "greens" are against people, but favor the prairie dog.

Passacantando countered by saying "Well, it's no longer about the greens. The greens just brought you the science. Now the science says there's calamity coming and we've got to do something. Now it's in the hands of American industry. Can we do enough fast enough and how many jobs and how much money are we going to make doing this, while competing with the Japanese. the Europeans and the Chinese as we build this green future? This is where the future American jobs are going to come from. The race is on. ... I think Hillary Clinton's plan could get us part way there."

Real estate tycoon Wayne Rogers (yeah, the same guy who played Trapper John many moons ago on the TV show M. A. S. H.) said he thought Clinton's plan was "idiotic" because it did not offer facts and figures. Rogers concluded that "the woman is a crazy person."

Comment: Later in the show Passacantando pointed out that there were facts and figures - they were just not on the summation page that Rogers read from. Having watched Rogers for the past two years, I suspect that his real objection to the Clinton plan centered around her plan to "retrofit 20 million low income houses" to make them energy efficient. In other words, Rogers is worried that Clinton will mandate that slumlords be required to upgrade millions and millions of rental units because the poor - who can least afford it - end up paying more for energy because they live in homes that landlords feel no impulse to upgrade, because the tenants and not the landlords pay the energy bills.

Dagen McDowell then posited that any of the candidates' plans are going to be somewhat general at this point in the campaign. She also noted that almost any plan would result in higher energy costs.

"Like it or not, this is a top issue for voters," she said. "According to some polls, [it is] second only to health care in terms of domestic issues." Jonas Max Ferris agreed with McDowell, adding that he thought the environment was a place where the federal government should take the lead. However, he did not like the Clinton plan, believing that it did not demand enough "sacrifice" and put the burden on corporations. "It's our own behavior she's not asking us to make any changes to," Ferris said. He and McDowell agreed that, no matter what, the result of the move to energy efficiency would result in much higher gas prices.

John Passacantando objected, saying that it's the current market-driven, speculative system coupled with energy company lobbyists that keep us "dependent" on fossil fuels and therefore, at the mercy of the oil markets. Efficient automobiles "puts the price of oil down because the demand goes down."

Terry Keenan jumped in to say that "a large reason we have higher oil prices is that the dollar's been falling." Passacantando chimed in, saying "And demand is skyrocketing."

Dagen McDowell agreed with Passacantando, but contended that "there are other ways you can fix the problem with cars in this country rather than just regulating the miles per gallon."

An irascible Wayne Rogers then launched into a diatribe against the Clinton plan and promoted the Environmental Defense League, an organization he claimed has "a very good plan on how to do this privately." (Aside: Based on past comments Rogers has made I believe he meant to say the Environmental Defense Fund. EDF is now known simply as "Environmental Defense". It is a group dedicated to encouraging businesses to include green concepts in their planning and development.)

Passacantando answered that in order for there to be a debate, Republican candidates needed to come forward with their own "free-market version" of an environmental plan.

Jonathan Hoenig then went off the deep end, denigrating Greenpeace for "protesting Kleenex." Passacantando was finally able to explain that Kimberly-Clark is using old-growth trees to create Kleenex tissues. Hoenig didn't care. He pulled tissues out of a box, threw them on his desk and said "This must absolutely piss you off. This must make your skin boil. They want to send us back to the stone-age. I don't want a life without Kleenex, Terry. It's not worth it to me." Passacantando ignored Hoenig's adolescent little hissy fit. Keenan asked Hoenig if there were any environmental plans he liked. He responded, "Yeah. Go get a car you want. Take it to the Union 76. Fill it up with gas and have a great day."

John Passacantando replied, "Right. Right. Denial. Denial is not going to work for us here, my friend." Hoenig responded "Just because Al Gore said it in a movie doesn't make it true, John." Passacantando countered that "everything in that movie was spot-on true and the American public believes it and that's where the political consensus has moved."

Jonas Max Ferris noted that "Hillary's plan has more detail than most other politicians." He went on to say that, in order to really reduce energy consumption, we need to make fossil fuel energy much more expensive, saying we should not do it "by giving benefits to buy solar panels or to buy a hybrid car or to mandate more efficient cars. It's like, for example, to build high-speed rail trains into cities or something."

Terry Keenan then made an unfortunate comment, reducing the issue to personal vanity. "You know. Jonathan's upset about his Kleenex. I'm upset about those incandescent bulbs, you know, that make you look good, instead of the new, long-lasting ones. I mean, is that the problem with Hillary's [plan], trying to outlaw things like that?"

Passacantando interjected, saying "we need to do all these things. We need to do the compact fluorescent bulbs ..." He was not allowed to complete his thought, because an angry Wayne Rogers jumped in to insult him.

ROGERS: " I happen to be hosting a conference. I happen to be hosting a conference. I'm going to say this to you and to Jonathan. I happen to be hosting a conference on this subject later this year, with a lot of very bright guys, who are a lot brighter than you, if you'll forgive me, and they are - there are ways to do this privately where you do not have to do this."

PASSACANTANDO: "Well, then let's see the plan."

ROGERS: "You don't have to load it onto the public..."

PASSACANTANDO: "You waited too long with this plan, my friend. You've waited too long. What we need - what Americans want now ...."


ROGERS: "It's people like you who make it difficult for the rational people to do something. That's - rational people are trying to solve this ..."

PASSACANTANDO: "Americans want to solve global warming ..."

ROGERS" "... and you just talk about it in your own stupid way."

PASSACANTANDO: "They don't want to have to get their oil by invading foreign countries."

Terry Keenan ended the segment abruptly at this point.


I was not aware that Kleenex is made using old-growth trees and will not be buying Kleenex tissues from this point on, until they change their policy.