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John McCain and energy

July 1, 2008 |  9:40 am

Our colleague Noam Levey has a story today weighing John McCain's voting history and public stances on a wide range of energy issues. It's a mixed bag, Levey reports:

"At times he has backed measures to ease restrictions on oil drilling off the coast and in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Other times he has voted to keep them.

"He has championed standards to require that automakers make vehicles more fuel-efficient, yet opposed standards to require that utilities use less fossil fuel by generating more power from renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

"McCain has rejected federal tax breaks for renewable energy producers, but backs billions of dollars in subsidies for the nuclear industry.

"He has criticized corn-based ethanol for doing 'nothing to increase our energy independence.' Yet while campaigning in 2006 in the Midwest corn belt, McCain called ethanol a 'vital, vital alternative energy source.'

"Senior McCain policy advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin said McCain's positions reflected a pragmatic approach to governing. 'Sen. McCain is interested in getting results,' he said."

Beyond the policy confusion this can engender (and we'll leave that for others to dissect), it points up the inherent problem any legislator faces in running for president: The longer the service, the bigger the pool for opposition researchers to swim in.

So in an odd bit of political irony, here Barack Obama's relative lack of legislative experience could be an advantage -- fewer votes, fewer points of exposure.

-- Scott Martelle