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The Final Liftoff of Atlantis

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July 8, 2011, 8:02 a.m.

NBCU and Mi­crosoft “are hold­ing high-level talks about chan­ging” ms­n­bc.com’s name. The move is “un­usu­al and po­ten­tially risky” since it’s “the third most pop­u­lar news Web site” in the U.S.

“I have a soft spot for her, be­cause I was at the vice pres­id­en­tial de­bate, and, you know, she winked at me.”
WH sr. ad­viser Dav­id Axel­rod, on wheth­er ex-AK Gov. Sarah Pal­in will run for WH ‘12, “Late Show,” CBS, 10/6

No name has been chosen yet but ac­cord­ing to in­tern­al memos “ob­tained by The New York Times this week,” the two com­pan­ies con­clude “that the brand known as ms­n­bc.com, a strictly ob­ject­ive news site, is widely con­fused with MS­N­BC,” the chan­nel “that has taken a strongly lib­er­al bent.”

MS­N­BC.com pres. Charlie Tilling­hast, wrote: “Both strategies are fine, but nam­ing them the same thing is brand in­san­ity.” Cur­rently, “the chan­nel and Web site are already sep­ar­ate com­pan­ies.” The plan is to use “the ms­n­bc.com Web ad­dress” as “an in­de­pend­ent site to pro­mote its TV pro­grams.” And then the ex­ist­ing site, called the “blue site” in­tern­ally, “would move to a new and as-yet-un­deter­mined Web ad­dress.” One name un­der dis­cus­sion is “NBCNews.com — something that NBC would seem to fa­vor.”

Ex-CBS pres. An­drew Hey­ward, on the po­ten­tial name-change: “It’s in­cred­ibly im­port­ant in this me­dia ca­co­phony for brands to be con­sist­ent, for brands to stand for something. And those two brands, each strong in their re­spect­ive areas, are in­creas­ingly stand­ing for dif­fer­ent things.”

NBCU and Mi­crosoft have “been con­duct­ing re­search about po­ten­tial new names for the last few months.” Tilling­hast, wrote in a memo on the re­search: “Con­sensus in this case is a tall or­der.” A meet­ing “to talk about the change” has been sched­uled for “mid-Novem­ber.”

Tilling­hast, on the new MS­N­BC “Lean For­ward” cam­paign: it “only ex­acer­bates the brand mis­align­ment prob­lem.” And he “en­vi­sions a ‘brand fam­ily,’ with the to-be-re­named Web site po­si­tioned at the head of the table, joined by two ex­ist­ing spinoff sites.”

MS­N­BC.com is cur­rently clock­ing in “50 mil­lion In­ter­net users each month” (Stel­ter, New York Times, 10/6).

This Morn­ing On TV

“Today,” “GMA” and “Early Show” lead with the tor­nadoes that hit AZ.

Thurzzzday Rat­ing­zzz Buzzz

For the week of 10/3/10, ABC’s “This Week” fin­ished first with a 2.1 Rat­ing/6 Share with 2.890M view­ers. CBS’ “Face the Na­tion” came in second with a 2.0 Rat­ing/5 Share with 2.840M view­ers, while “Fox News Sunday” roun­ded out the group with a 1.0 Rat­ing/3 Share with 1.371M view­ers (Hot­line sources, 10/7).

Mean­while, the re­plays of “Fox News Sunday” on FNC drew 1.466M view­ers, giv­ing the show a total of 2.837M view­ers on broad­cast and cable (Nielsen Me­dia Re­search, 10/7).

Get­ting Bet­ter Day By Day

Day one rat­ings for CNN’s new show “Park­er Spitzer,” put the new pro­gram on a “rocky start.” But day two “showed no­tice­able rat­ings im­prove­ment,” av­er­aging 513K view­ers, up from 454K 10/4, which “is a re­spect­able im­prove­ment” of 13%. And to add on the rat­ings bump, the show “demon­strated a gain in the audi­ence the net­work sells to ad­vert­isers: view­ers between the ages of 25 and 54.” And even “man­aged to build on the audi­ence” of “John King, USA” (Carter, New York Times, 10/6).

The New York Post re­ports “Eli­ot Spitzer isn’t ready for live TV” and the show “is preta­ped and ed­ited” be­cause he and Kath­leen Park­er “can’t take cues or stick to tim­ing.” A CNN spokes­per­son denies “the show is preta­ped to edit flubs.” Post sources claim Rick Sanc­hez was driv­en “over the edge” after “watch­ing the in­ex­per­i­enced duo bumble dur­ing re­hears­als,” which lead “to his charge that CNN is run by big­ots.”

A source claims: “Tim­ing was a big factor in Sanc­hez’s blowup. He was frus­trated that he was con­stantly be­ing over­looked, he thought his race had something to do with it” (10/6).

I’m Not A Per­fect Man

Ex-CNNer Rick Sanc­hez re­leased a “form­al apo­logy” 10/6 p.m., speak­ing for the first time since his con­tro­ver­sial com­ments about Jon Stew­art that ul­ti­mately got him fired. Sanc­hez said “in­art­ful com­ments” should “nev­er have been made.”

Re­leased through a South FL “pub­li­cist,” Sanc­hez wrote: “I am very much op­posed to hate and in­tol­er­ance, in any form, and I have fre­quently spoken out against pre­ju­dice. … Des­pite what my tired and mangled words may have im­plied, they were nev­er in­ten­ded to sug­gest any sort of nar­row-minded­ness and should nev­er have been made.”

Sanc­hez went on writ­ing “I sin­cerely ex­tend this apo­logy to any­one else whom I may have of­fen­ded.” He called his time at CNN “six won­der­ful years,” and said he had “tre­mend­ous re­spect for every­one there, and I know that they feel the same about me. There are no hard feel­ings - just ex­cite­ment about a new fu­ture of op­por­tun­it­ies” (New York Post, 10/6).

CoCo Gets “Hot”

In an ad for his new TBS late-night show, Con­an O’Bri­en “chan­nels Par­is Hilton’s in­fam­ously x-rated Carl’s Jr. car wash ad”

The ad, keeps with CoCo’s theme of “Leg­ally Pro­hib­ited From Be­ing Funny on Tele­vi­sion,” Coco can be seen wash­ing “his desk to the tune of Def Lep­pard’s ‘Pour Some Sug­ar On Me.’” He then “host emerges from his drive­way and pro­ceeds to sau­cily wash down his desk, crawl­ing on top of it, spray­ing the hose in­to his mouth and wip­ing a yel­low sponge on his chest.” He then ends the ad by tak­ing a bite out of a sponge and drenches him­self with wa­ter.

“Con­an” premi­eres 11/8 (Be­nigno, New York Daily News, 10/6).

What Do You Think About That Re­gis?

“Today“‘s third hour beat “Live With Re­gis & Kelly” for the “first time ever in total view­ers.” “Today” av­er­aged 3.348M view­ers “na­tion­ally to ‘Live’s‘ 3.248M view­ers” for the ‘09-‘10 TV sea­son. The third hour of “Today” was ad­ded in ‘00 and this is “first time” that it has “beaten” “Live.”

The two show go “head-to-head” at 9am “in most ma­jor mar­kets, in­clud­ing New York, LA, Chica­go, At­lanta, Phil­adelphia and San Fran­cisco” (Starr, New York Post, 10/6).

Umm Does He Know What Net­work He Showed Up On?

Time Warner CEO Jef­frey Be­wkes ap­peared on FNC’s “Your World,” 10/6 p.m. and had a few things to say about CNN and the fu­ture of TV.

Be­wkes on the fu­ture of TV: “Think of CNN, HBO, TNT. What we are say­ing is that those net­works are go­ing to be avail­able on de­mand on your TV set. That big set in the liv­ing room that you think that you have got to go at 9:00 and watch the show at 9:00, that is go­ing to be avail­able any time of day you want.”

Be­wkes, on the fu­ture of TV: “A lot of at­ten­tion goes to In­ter­net TV. And I think it is a big story. But a big­ger story is tak­ing the TV net­works and the TV shows and put­ting it on your net — your liv­ing room TV. I think reas­on that all the at­ten­tion goes to In­ter­net TV is be­cause it is on de­mand. You can get something on You­Tube. You search for a show on Hulu, and you find the show that you’re try­ing to look for.”

Be­wkes, on the Rick Sanc­hez fir­ing and if he’d hire him again: “I wish him well. I think that he is a tal­en­ted guy. He’s go­ing to have a lot of in­terest in dif­fer­ent chan­nels. And who knows. Maybe, some day, the right place for him would be one of ours. I don’t think we should be do­ing that now. And I am sure Rick would like to try something new.”

Be­wkes, on fir­ing Jon Klein: “But Jon did a very good job. And a lot of what Jon did was done with the real sup­port and agree­ment of Jim Walton, that runs CNN, and me as well, and Phil Kent, who runs Turn­er. I think we got to the point where we needed to make a change. And that is why we make this struc­tur­al change. And I think that Jon, who un­der­stood that that was prob­ably — some­where around here, we were go­ing to get to that point. I don’t think it sur­prised him.”

Be­wkes, on if there is room for CNN in the mar­ket: “We really think that there’s a — by the way, there’s plenty of room for all of us. You know, I think CNN can con­tin­ue to deep­en the cov­er­age that it is bring­ing to these is­sues. We’re very strong on break­ing news, wheth­er it’s wars, big events in the world, and elec­tions, where we had our peak rat­ings when we had the elec­tions a couple of years ago.”

Be­wkes, on the start of “Park­er Spitzer”: “Well, it star­ted out a little — let’s say it star­ted out in a way that leaves it room for im­prove­ment in terms of rat­ings” (FNC, 10/6).

I’m Sorry, Come Back Please

MS­N­BC’s Lawrence O’Don­nell, host of “Last Word” apo­lo­gized 10/6 to RNC Chair Mi­chael Steele for us­ing some “choice” words dur­ing their in­ter­view 10/5.

O’Don­nell: “I called him back im­me­di­ately and apo­lo­gized for us­ing the word that he found of­fens­ive. Those of us who are not des­cend­ants from slaves can nev­er know the full im­pact of the word mas­ter in the ears of an Afric­an-Amer­ic­an man. Mi­chael Steele told me, quote, ‘it sort of stung.’ He could not have been more gra­cious and for­giv­ing. He also told me, quote, ‘the in­ter­view was a lot of fun, I loved our give and take, I will be back on the show.’”

O’Don­nell, on try­ing to get Steele to come back so he could apo­lo­gize on-air: “I in­vited him on the show to­night, so that I could apo­lo­gize to him dir­ectly, in front of every­one who had seen the in­ter­view. He said that wasn’t ne­ces­sary and that the apo­logy on the phone was more than any­one else had done who had slighted him in the past” (MS­N­BC, 10/6).

Laugh Track

Jay Leno: “Well, it’s get­ting very testy out there on the cam­paign trail. Former Vice Pres­id­ent and Pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Wal­ter Mondale has cri­ti­cized Pres­id­ent Obama for us­ing a tele­prompt­er. He called them idi­ot boards. Of course, well, Demo­crats were stunned. They said, ‘What? Wal­ter Mondale is still alive?’ … Man, when the cards go against you. Pres­id­ent Obama, this guy can’t get a break now. Even the dog whisper­er, Cesar Mil­lan, you know that guy? He’s cri­ti­ciz­ing the Pres­id­ent. This is real. Mil­an says the Pres­id­ent lets the dog lead him on walks when the dog should fol­low him. You know, give the guy a break, Obama can’t even get Demo­crats to fol­low him. For­get the dog. Give the guy a break! Man! And Bob Wood­ward told CNN yes­ter­day, an Obama/Hil­lary tick­et is on the table for 2012. Though some in­siders say Obama doesn’t feel he needs Hil­lary on the tick­et. At this point, I don’t think Hil­lary feels she needs Obama on the tick­et. Oh, but listen to this, we could have a sa­vior. You know who may run for Pres­id­ent? Don­ald Trump. Oh, wouldn’t that be ex­cit­ing? Don’t you think? Come on. We haven’t had a Pres­id­ent who wore a powdered wig since John Quincy Adams. That’d be fant­ast­ic. … And in Delaware, the Re­pub­lic­an anti-mas­turb­a­tion witch-dab­bling Sen­ate can­did­ate, what’s her name? Oh, Christine O’Don­nell. Have you seen her ad? She has an ad in which she tells voters, ‘I’m you. I’m just like you’ Of course, a lot of people are go­ing, ‘Really? You’re me? Well, I don’t be­long in the US Sen­ate either. Okay? I want some­body smarter than me! And that’s not you.’… Oh, listen to this, the latest Gal­lup poll gives Con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans the best poll num­bers they’ve ever had. They say this could be the biggest Re­pub­lic­an year since 1894. So for the second time, John Mc­Cain could be swept to vic­tory. … . Well, the big story here in Cali­for­nia, Meg Whit­man can­did­ate for Gov­ernor, is un­der fire for al­legedly hav­ing an il­leg­al work­er in her home. You know this story? It seems she got the maid through a le­git­im­ate em­ploy­ment in­dustry, the maid had phony pa­pers. Meg Whit­man was pay­ing her $23 an hour. And now Glor­ia Allred, she’s de­fend­ing the house­keep­er, is hang trouble with her maid. She’s not il­leg­al. She just found out Meg Whit­man’s maid was mak­ing $23 an hour” (“To­night Show,” NBC, 10/6).

Dav­id Let­ter­man: “Oh, you know who’s run­ning for Pres­id­ent, Don­ald Trump? And he’s already got a short list of Pres­id­en­tial run­ning mates, Vice Pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates. He’s think­ing about Cyndi Lauper, Hulk Hogan, Melissa Rivers, Shar­on Os­bourne. He’s ready to go. Trump refers to the White House as a 200 year old tear down. Ah, tear it down. When Trump goes in­to the booth to vote, he lets that thing on his head pull the lever. … Did you see this? Talk about a bloop­er. Yes­ter­day, Pres­id­ent Obama’s giv­ing a fairly sig­ni­fic­ant speech, and the Pres­id­en­tial seal, which iden­ti­fies him as the Pres­id­ent, and it goes with him every­where, right there on the front of the po­di­um, it fell off. … But, when they got to look­ing around, you know what they found be­hind the Pres­id­en­tial seal? His birth cer­ti­fic­ate. That’s right. And you know, Pres­id­ent Obama is go­ing es­sen­tially door to door, and he’ll come to your house and knock on the door and say, ‘Is it okay if I have a little meet and greet?’ And they tele­vise them and they’re like town meet­ings ex­cept when the weath­er is nice, they have them in the back­yard. He’s seen so many bad lawns. But if you think about it, that’s not a prob­lem be­cause he’s used to look­ing at Biden’s head. … Hil­lary Clin­ton, they’re say­ing, might run for Vice Pres­id­ent with Obama in 2012. Power­ful wo­man, Hil­lary Clin­ton, power­ful wo­man. And when you’re that power­ful, man or wo­man, people are afraid of you, and you know what they refer to Hil­lary Clin­ton as in Wash­ing­ton, DC? Kim Jong Hill” (“Late Night,” CBS, 10/6).

Jon Stew­art: “Let’s be­gin to­night with our con­tinu­ing cov­er­age of In­de­cision 2010, Mid-Term Mad­ness. It seems in­ev­it­able that Re­pub­lic­ans in this sea­son of voter an­ger and change will re­claim the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives. But what of the Sen­ate, the world’s most de­lib­er­at­ive body, the sau­cer that cools the House’s hot tea and, of course, kills most of its le­gis­la­tion? Could the Demo­crats also lose the Sen­ate as well as the un­der­ground secret third House of Con­gress .. whoops. I’ve said too much. So how bad is it for the Dems in the Sen­ate? … 13 Demo­crat­ic seats are in danger. So that’s what Lassie was try­ing to tell me. Woof, woof, woof. Trouble for the Demo­crats at the old mill? … So how much trouble are the Demo­crats in? Even Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, that ex­cit­ing and cha­ris­mat­ic lead­er, is fa­cing a tough chal­lenge for his seat in Nevada. … She wants to ab­ol­ish the De­part­ment of Weights and Meas­ures. From now on just do busi­ness like this. She wants to dis­solve the Post Of­fice and send all her mes­sages through an­gels. They’re every­where. So here’s the thing, Re­id is tied with her. Which can only mean one thing, Nevadans must really hate the EPA or Harry Re­id. So if Re­pub­lic­ans re­gain the Sen­ate, who could be the new ma­jor­ity lead­er? Per­haps con­ser­vat­ive power broker, cur­rent South Car­o­lina Sen­at­or Jim De­Mint would then be coun­ted on to rein in ideo­lo­gic­al mus­tangs like Angle. Oh, my god, did Jim De­Mint just out­law glee clubs? Not to be rude to South Car­o­lina, but if you rule out gays and un­wed moth­ers from teach­ing you down there, you’re really only left with creepy out-of-touch base­ment dwell­ers who seem a little off, you know, De­Mint’s op­pon­ent. 40 points be­hind. In this cli­mate, is there any ex­treme a Re­pub­lic­an can go to that will hurt their chances in Novem­ber? … I know this game. I know this game. I am not a cen­taur. Your turn. … You’re me? Be­cause I don’t re­call the last time I had to deny I was a witch. That’s Christine O’Don­nell, the Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate for sen­at­or in Delaware. She’s cur­rently about 16 points down in the polls, prob­ably be­cause she ex­hib­its the type of judg­ment that has her deny­ing she is a witch while stand­ing in front of what ap­pears to be steam from a bub­bling cauldron. Hey, where we go­ing to shoot Christine O’Don­nell’s com­mer­cial where she denies she’s a witch? Hey, Elvira’s set is avail­able. It’s a pe­cu­li­ar elec­tion sea­son where once again Amer­ic­ans are be­ing told just how di­vided we are from a na­tion, and now we must pick from one of two doc­trin­aire choices” (“Daily Show,” Com­edy Cent­ral, 10/6).

Jimmy Fal­lon: “Hey, did you guys see this? Last night, Pres­id­ent Obama was giv­ing a big speech, and the Pres­id­en­tial seal fell off his po­di­um. They tried to put it back on, but Hil­lary had already grabbed it and run away. She was like, ‘It’s mine!’ Yep, after the Pres­id­en­tial seal fell off, Obama ac­tu­ally said, ‘That’s okay, you all know who I am.’ And then Tea Parti­ers were like, ‘Do we though?’” (“Late Night,” NBC, 10/7).

TOP TEN SIGNS THERE’S TROUBLE AT FOX NEWS 10.Ac­ci­dent­ally said something pos­it­ive about a Demo­crat. 9.News tick­er reads “Bosses crazy, send help.” 8.Today’s top story: Is there any­thing more de­li­cious than ba­con? 7.Been cri­ti­ciz­ing Obama for not do­ing enough to pre­vent World War I. 6.Bill O’Re­illy in­vit­ing guests to enter the “No Pants Zone.” 5.Crime stor­ies eer­ily sim­il­ar to plot of most re­cent “Hawaii Five-O.” 4.Spent five hours today break­ing down the Mets play­off chances. 3.Think­ing about hir­ing Rick Sanc­hez. 2.Since June, Glenn Beck has been do­ing this non­stop. 1.They’re think­ing of giv­ing the 10pm slot to Leno. (CBS, 10/6).

The votes of Vir­gin­ia’s two Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors to over­turn a land­mark air-pol­lu­tion rule of­fer a glimpse in­to the in­flu­ence of one re­gion in the com­mon­wealth and a portent­ous sign for the na­tion­al polit­ic­al fight over en­vir­on­ment­al reg­u­la­tion and the eco­nomy.

Vir­gin­ia’s 9th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, cov­er­ing the state’s south­w­est corner, is known for its blue-col­lar voters, coal mines, and con­ser­vat­ive bent com­pared with the rest of the state — es­pe­cially North­ern Vir­gin­ia. It’s a long way from here to there: The state’s far west­ern edge is closer to the Mis­sis­sippi River than to the Po­tom­ac.

But last week, the voices of that re­gion’s state of­fi­cials and in­dustry lob­by­ists res­on­ated with Vir­gin­ia Demo­crat­ic Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb more than any­one closer to Cap­it­ol Hill.

Warner and Webb voted on June 20 to sup­port a dis­ap­prov­al res­ol­u­tion sponsored by Sen­ate En­vir­on­ment and Pub­lic Works rank­ing mem­ber James In­hofe, R-Okla., that would have nul­li­fied the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency’s re­cently fi­nal­ized rule con­trolling mer­cury and oth­er air­borne tox­ins from power plants. The res­ol­u­tion failed, but the votes of Warner and Webb to sup­port it sur­prised Wash­ing­ton in­siders on both sides of the fight.

“I asked Sen­at­ors Webb and Warner to con­sider sup­port­ing the res­ol­u­tion be­cause it just gives us some sense of bal­ance in what we think is an in­dustry very im­port­ant to not just Vir­gin­ia but to the en­tire coun­try,” said Phil­lip Puck­ett, a vet­er­an Demo­crat­ic Vir­gin­ia state sen­at­or who rep­res­ents the south­w­est part of the com­mon­wealth.

An­oth­er per­son key to per­suad­ing the two sen­at­ors — and es­pe­cially Warner — to sup­port In­hofe’s res­ol­u­tion was Kev­in Crutch­field, CEO of Al­pha Nat­ur­al Re­sources, which bills it­self as the third-largest coal pro­du­cer in the United States and fifth largest in the world. Al­pha is based in Bris­tol, deep in south­west­ern Vir­gin­ia.

Ac­cord­ing to sev­er­al in­dustry and Hill sources, Crutch­field called the sen­at­ors in the hours be­fore the vote and was pivotal in their de­cision to sup­port the res­ol­u­tion.

Vot­ing to over­turn the EPA rule “rep­res­en­ted an op­por­tun­ity to send a clear sig­nal to this ad­min­is­tra­tion that it is over­reach­ing in the reg­u­lat­ory arena, and the costs of that over­reach will equate to lost jobs and high­er en­ergy prices for Vir­gini­ans and Amer­ic­an fam­il­ies,” said Ted Pile, vice pres­id­ent for cor­por­ate com­mu­nic­a­tions at Al­pha.

En­vir­on­ment­al and pub­lic-health groups have suc­cess­fully lob­bied most coal-state Demo­crats to sup­port the EPA rule by de­scrib­ing the vote to over­turn it as im­per­il­ing chil­dren and ba­bies with mer­cury pol­lu­tion. The votes of Webb and Warner caught en­vir­on­ment­al­ists off guard.

“Warner has of­ten been there for us, and this was really a shock on this is­sue to see him go south — or south­w­est, as they say,” said Nav­in Nayak, seni­or vice pres­id­ent for cam­paigns with the League of Con­ser­va­tion Voters.

En­vir­on­ment­al­ists were sur­prised in part be­cause neither Webb nor Warner is up for reelec­tion, so at­ten­tion was more fo­cused on Demo­crats from coal-de­pend­ent states who are run­ning this cycle, in­clud­ing Claire Mc­Caskill of Mis­souri and Robert Ca­sey of Pennsylvania. Webb is re­tir­ing, and Warner isn’t up un­til 2014.

Still, the Vir­gin­ia Demo­crats’ votes to over­turn one of Pres­id­ent Obama’s most sig­ni­fic­ant clean-air rules are em­blem­at­ic of polit­ics that tran­scend the com­mon­wealth.

“Vir­gin­ia is a bell­weth­er state in the sense that it is a demo­graph­ic mi­cro­cosm of the coun­try,” Webb told Na­tion­al Journ­al Daily after his vote. In­deed, Vir­gin­ia isn’t even known for be­ing a ma­jor coal-pro­du­cing state. It ranks 12th in the coun­try after Col­or­ado and ahead of New Mex­ico, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­al Min­ing As­so­ci­ation.

“It’s coal, but Vir­gin­ia has also lost a tre­mend­ous amount of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs,” Webb said. “The is­sues that are go­ing to be rel­ev­ant in the na­tion­al cam­paign show up in dif­fer­ent demo­graph­ic pock­ets here.”

And that’s why the votes cast by Webb and Warner are also a portent­ous sign both for Obama’s bid to win the state and for former Demo­crat­ic Gov. Tim Kaine’s ef­forts to beat his likely Re­pub­lic­an op­pon­ent, former Sen. George Al­len, in the race for the seat Webb is va­cat­ing.

“This is­sue is about a reg­u­la­tion that was put for­ward by a fed­er­al agency that’s un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­id­ent Obama, and so to some ex­tent I’d ex­pect there would be a con­ver­sa­tion about that reg­u­la­tion with­in the con­text of his cam­paign,” said former Rep. Rick Bouch­er, D-Va., who lost his seat rep­res­ent­ing the 9th Dis­trict in 2010 partly be­cause of his crit­ic­al role ne­go­ti­at­ing the 2009 cap-and-trade bill to con­trol car­bon emis­sions.

In oth­er words, these votes put Obama in an awk­ward po­s­i­tion if he tries to tout his en­vir­on­ment­al re­cord in Vir­gin­ia when both the state’s Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors don’t sup­port one of the biggest pil­lars of that re­cord.

“As a Demo­crat­ic state sen­at­or out here, I’ve not ap­pre­ci­ated the po­s­i­tion that the pres­id­ent has taken be­cause I think it puts the coal in­dustry in jeop­ardy,” Puck­ett said. “It’s a dif­fi­cult spot to be in. We’d like to be able to sup­port a Demo­crat­ic pres­id­ent.”

It’s un­clear what Kaine thinks about this par­tic­u­lar EPA rule con­trolling mer­cury pol­lu­tion from power plants. On his cam­paign web­site, Kaine says he will “res­ist on­go­ing ef­forts to weak­en en­vir­on­ment­al reg­u­la­tions that are needed to pro­tect pub­lic health.”

Puck­ett said that while Kaine was gov­ernor from 2006 to 2010, he had been sup­port­ive of the in­dustry. “He is one who un­der­stands how im­port­ant coal is to Vir­gin­ia,” Puck­ett said. “I don’t want to speak for him, but I be­lieve if you asked him dir­ectly, he’d say he’s look­ing for a bal­ance.”

Likely re­luct­ant to go out on a limb over a con­tro­ver­sial EPA rule just months be­fore Novem­ber, the Obama cam­paign de­clined to com­ment for this column and the Kaine cam­paign also did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

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