Editor's Note: The Sierra Club has endorsed Barack Obama for president. The environmental group sent this statement to reporters Friday, as elected leaders negotiated a buyout to address the financial crisis, and the presidential candidates agreed to debate, despite John McCain's earlier vow to skip it until the financial buyout negotiations were complete.
While John McCain's political gamesmanship over tonight's presidential debate has been notable, it comes after nearly two years of refusing to show up for Congressional debates on America's most pressing problems. John McCain's absenteeism is unparalleled in this Congress. Perhaps McCain could be asked tonight how he thinks his failure to vote on anything since April and missing every single key vote on energy for almost the past two years has impacted our economy? Was the energy crisis over the last two years not important enough for Senator McCain to come back to Washington to "get to work"?
During his 26 years in Congress, John McCain twice chaired the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, yet he did nothing to help raise fuel economy standards -- an issue over which the Commerce Committee has jurisdiction. And now instead of a real plan for energy independence, he wants to run the economy like a game show with gimmicks like a $300 million prize for car batteries and a gas tax holiday.
When new leadership took over Congress and began the process of righting our energy policy and putting us on the road toward the clean energy future, John McCain couldn't find time to make any of the 23 Senate votes cast over a 6-month period of time on last year's landmark energy bill. When every single other senator voted and a provision to repeal billions in government giveaways to Big Oil in order to fund clean energy lost by a single vote, John McCain was nowhere to be found.
And during February's important debate over the economic stimulus bill, John McCain sat on his campaign plane at Dulles Airport instead of showing up to vote. He was the only senator not to vote when clean energy lost by just a single vote. Thanks to Senator McCain's lack of leadership, these vital incentives for clean energy remain unpassed and 116,000 hardworking Americans in the wind and solar industries stand to lose their jobs as a result.
While he's not found time to vote in Congress, he's made plenty of promises out on the campaign trail. Unfortunately, his rhetoric bears almost no resemblance to his long record of saying thanks, but no thanks to clean energy while pushing an agenda that has benefited Big Oil and other special interests time and time again.
We hope Senator McCain will take the opportunity tonight and in the debates ahead to finally be honest with the American people about his real record on the issues voters care about. And if he continues his campaign of outright deception, we hope that the debate moderators and the voting public will hold him accountable.
- Cathy Duvall
Sierra Club National Political Director
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