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Obama's green jobs czar Van Jones quits under fire

September 5, 2009 | 10:10 pm
Democrat president Barack Obama's appointee Van Jones

Van Jones, the onetime Marxist whose controversial statements about Republicans and 9/11 have made him a distracting lightning rod as Barack Obama's environmental jobs czar in recent days, resigned tonight.

Now, the Sunday morning political talk shows (guest listings here) will have something really hot to talk about.

On Wednesday, as The Ticket reported here, Jones was forced to apologize when a video surfaced of his February remarks in Berkeley, of all places, using a reference to a lower anatomical orifice to describe Republicans.

The next day Jones again had to apologize for having his signature on a petition to then N.Y. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer seeking an investigation into the 9/11 attacks as possibly an inside job planned by then-Pres. George W. Bush to soften opposition to a war in Iraq.

On another video here Jones was seen mocking Bush physically and rhetorically as "a crackhead" for his addiction to petroleum.

Jones was special adviser for green jobs to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. As such, Jones, who was arrested in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots, was supposed to....

...help reduce American dependence on foreign oil. But recently he had become the much-bashed target of conservative talk show hosts and readers leaving comments on countless blogs, including this one.

Additional criticism mounted when many major media outlets, especially TV, ignored the growing controversy.

With the healthcare and deficit debates certain to heat up now as Congress returns to Washington and with the president seeking to refocus political discussion this coming week with a controversial speech of his own to the nation's school children on Tuesday and an address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday evening, another bloody fight over an outspoken appointee was not in Obama's gameplan.

Especially one with such crudely-expressed views of the minority party that Obama wouldn't mind getting some support from.

Although Jones disavowed his previous remarks this week, on Friday with the president out of town at Camp David the White House said that he would remain a part of the administration.

However, the lack of the usual full-throated official endorsement -- "Mr. X has the president's fullest confidence and he looks forward to working with him in the years to come to improve life for American citizens" -- signaled to many that the controversial Jones' hours in this Democrat's White House were numbered.

Tonight, right around midnight, the bewitching hour when not by chance few media were paying attention, those hours ran out for Jones.

In his resignation statement, he said, "On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide." Jones added he could not ask colleagues to expend time and energy defending or explaining his past.

Council chair Nancy Sutley did not argue with Jones' resignation, saying only he had been a strong voice for renewable energy jobs and wished him well in the future.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press

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