Has it really come to this: that working for an energy company is now a liability - an actual badge of shame - for a candidate for public office in Colorado?Meanwhile, Mark Udall is a ranking member of the majority party running the "worst Congress ever," a Congress that sits idly by while gasoline and other energy prices skyrocket. No drilling in ANWR. No new oil refineries. No new nuclear energy plants.
It's hard to believe most voters are so unsophisticated - about economics and the price of gasoline, among other things. In fact, I don't believe they are. But some people do.
The left-wing activists over at ProgressNowAction recently took out an ad on the Rocky Web site trumpeting the claim that GOP Senate candidate Bob Schaffer is actually "Big Oil Bob," a fellow somehow complicit not only in escalating gas prices but also in war profiteering in Iraq. And these sleazy themes may well become a staple promoted by independent political groups as we approach Election Day.
After Schaffer left Congress in early 2003, he did indeed go to work for Denver-based Aspect Energy. But far from being a member in good standing of Big Oil (not that it would be damning anyway), Aspect Energy is a medium-sized independent. It's an aggressively entrepreneurial outfit whose current hydrocarbon production, moreover, is 80 percent in natural gas, according to its Web site.
At first, Schaffer worked mostly on Aspect's charitable efforts, which focus heavily on education. Eventually he shifted to the business side, where he ended up, he told me, as vice president for business development.
ProgressNowAction professes outrage (it's always hard to tell if a political hit squad's indignation is sincere) because Schaffer "voted for over $33 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil" in 2001, naturally neglecting to mention that the price of oil averaged $23 a barrel that year, as opposed to the stratospheric level of today.
Even a very carefully studied and limited drilling exploration of the Roan Plateau (a moderate bipartisan approach supported by Gov. Bill Ritter and Bob Schaffer) is not good enough for Udall.
So while the Big Blue Lie Machine uses "sleazy themes" to tar Bob Schaffer, it's Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall whose energy policies are actually harming the pocketbooks of average Coloradans. As Investor's Business Daily astutely points out:
Failing to allow drilling in ANWR. We have, as Bush noted, estimated capacity of a million barrels of oil a day from this source alone -- enough for 27 million gallons of gas and diesel. But Congress won't touch it, fearful of the clout of the environmental lobby. As a result, you pay at the pump so your representative can raise campaign cash.That hits close to home. Coloradans "pay at the pump" so Mark Udall "can raise campaign cash." But then again, we already knew that Udall's - and ProgressNow's - priorities were out of whack.