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Issa: Tim Russert Died So That We Might Drill

May 30, 2010

California Republican Darrell Issa appeared on Fox News Sunday to continue his crusade against President Obama over the Sestak no-pay-for-no-play non-scandal, this time calling for an FBI investigation. But over the past several weeks, Issa has also been the GOP's chief messenger in criticizing Obama's response to the BP catastrophe in the Gulf. Which is an odd choice by the Republicans. After all, Issa not only has a long record of support for offshore drilling, opposition to alternative energy investments and stonewalling regulation of the oil industry. Two years ago, Darrell Issa suggested another Sunday news icon, the late Tim Russert, would have wanted us to drill.
Issa's misappropriation of Russert's memory came on the House floor following the shocking June 2008 death of the Meet the Press host. After members of the House offered their condolences and eulogies to Russert while discussing a resolution in his honor, Issa took to the floor to make a pitch for off-shore drilling:

"We are going to miss Tim Russert when it comes to the people on both sides of the issue of why we have $5 oil - $5 gasoline and $135 oil. I think Tim Russert would have been just the right guy to hold people accountable, who would talk about the 68 million acres that are, quote, inactive, while in fact 41 million are under current lease and use and are producing millions of barrels of oil and natural gas a day...
...So, Madam Speaker, I am going to miss Tim Russert because this debate is too important not to have a fact-oriented, unbiased moderator who could in fact bring to bear the truth that we need to have."

Of course, that Darrell Issa would use any tactic, no matter how tasteless, to sell domestic oil exploration comes as no surprise. A foe of cap and trade and federal spending on alternative energy resources, Issa has long backed drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) as well as ending the moratorium on U.S. offshore extraction. As he put it two years ago:

"Back in 1998 I called for our California coast to be opened for exploration so we would have a strategic reserve we could tap in time of need. Guess what, Barbara Boxer and the radical left attacked me. I lost that election. I haven't changed my position since then; I never will. America has to have its own resources. We are the party that you know has wanted to do that, and you are the party that has been blocking it."

By now, Americans shouldn't be surprised either that Darrell Issa violated the legacy of Tim Russert only hours after his death. After all, Issa's political barbarism includes accusing Valerie Plame of perjury, attacking the families of Blackwater contractors killed in Fallujah and seeking the firing of U.S. attorney Carol Lam, just to name a few. And when it comes to disaster recovery, the former car thief turned car alarm magnate Darrell Issa in April 2008 showed no compassion for the victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York:

"It's very simple: I can't vote for additional money for New York if I can't see why it would be appropriate to do this every single time a similar situation happens, which quite frankly includes any urban terrorist. It doesn't have to be somebody from al Qaeda. It can be someone who decides that they don't like animal testing at one of our pharmaceutical facilities."
Issa said the destruction of the World Trade Center did not involve a dirty bomb or a chemical weapon designed to make people sick.
"It simply was an aircraft, residue of the aircraft and residue of the materials used to build this building," Issa said.

Nevertheless, as Bill Maher introduced his guest on May 14, 2010, Darrell Issa "is becoming quite the player in the Republican Party." But over the course of their discussion, the quite reasonable Issa never answered Maher's first question:

"You were a 'drill, baby drill' guy. And I saw recently Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican governor of the state, reversed himself on that and said, 'you know what, gee, if what was happening off the Gulf Coast was happening off of Santa Barbara like it once did, it wouldn't be good for us. Do you have any second thoughts about 'drill, baby drill'?"

Judging from his shameful record, Darrell Issa doesn't have any second thoughts at all.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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