By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
McGinty scheduled a soiree at the home of Norman Lear, and Begley was invited to attend. McGinty assured the gathering of celebs that the environment was indeed a pressing part of Clinton's agenda. As evidence, she pointed to what she called the administration's "49 budget wins for the environment." McGinty claimed that the Clinton team had thwarted the evil plans of the Republicans at every turn. She was especially proud of the role the administration played in smashing Bob Dole's regulatory reform bill and efforts to close the national parks.
Her summary was not unremittingly upbeat. She warned of an alternate future. Imagine, she intoned, the dark fate awaiting the Republic's ecosystems with Dole in the White House, Trent Lott presiding over the Senate, and Newt helming the House. Only Clinton and Gore stand between these barbarians and the unrestrained looting of the nation's natural heritage. Much hooting about the Republican Horror followed.
McGinty ended by telling the celebs to be patient. Once Clinton was reelected, she bubbled, the real man would emerge with an even stronger environmental agenda. Of course, the real Bill Clinton doesn't give a damn about the environment, as shown by his unnerving history of sell-outs to corporations in Arkansas. And McGinty failed to mention that a lame duck Clinton presidency will almost certainly throw even more power into the hands of Newt's Congress.
Neither McGinty nor her mentor Al Gore proffered any explanations about the fate of the many now mildewed promises of the administration on the environment. What about Gore's valiant pledge during the '92 campaign to halt the dioxin-belching WTI incinerator outside Liverpool, Ohio, a stand that was quickly reversed in one of the more disgraceful episodes in recent presidential politics? Then there were the high-minded plans to eliminate the billions in subsidies to corporations that log timber and mine gold on public lands, plans that were eighty-sixed only two months into the administration at the request of Western Democrats.
Also buried in mothballs at the request of the oil industry are Gore's vows to increase fuel efficiency standards and secure reductions in global carbon dioxide emissions. Indeed, this appears to be an administration cruising along without any discernible energy policy, whose pathetic response to the oil companies' recent frenzy of price gouging was to simply give them more oil from the strategic reserves and lift the 30-year ban on the exportation of Alaskan crude oil. This extraordinary action, almost entirely ignored by the press, multiplies five times the value of Exxon, British Petroleum, and Arco's holdings in Alaska and makes it profitable for them to accelerate their drilling rates, thus rendering it almost inevitable that the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge will be opened to drilling in the near future. There is no way a Republican president could have maneuvered this measure through the Congress. Oilman George Bush tried and failed. But Clinton has given the oil companies a prize they sought vainly from five previous presidents.
To stay with Alaska, consider the Tongass National Forest. McGinty claimed that Clinton beat back Rep. Don Young's attempts to speed up clearcutting on the nation's largest temperate rainforest. Yet only days before McGinty jetted off to L.A., the Clinton administration unveiled its plan for the Tongass prescribing three times as much clearcutting as their own biologists say is sustainable and legal.
Clinton's record on toxics makes George Bush look like Rachel Carson. Clinton's obsession with free trade at any cost has turned the U.S. into a PCB-importing country. PCBs will be trucked into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico to feed toxic incinerators that this administration has supported from day one. No surprise here, since the First Lady rehearsed the White House posture by sitting on the board of one such lethal enterprise in Arkansas.
The best way to test Clinton's actual performance, as opposed his posture-and-wink maneuvers, is to examine what his administration achieved in the first two years of his term, when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Guess what? It is almost universally agreed that the 1993-94 congressional session was the most environmentally null of the last generation. Nothing good came out of the White House or the Congress. One example: The Endangered Species Act was up for reauthorization. If we are to believe Ms. McGinty, Clinton should have been propelling a strengthened law through a friendly Congress. He did nothing of the sort. In fact, his Interior Secretary, Bruce Babbitt, was busily hollowing out the Act with corporate-friendly easements helping timber companies in the Northwest, land developers in California, and sugar barons in Florida.
Needless to say, Norman Lear and his crowd did not press McGinty on these matters. Liberal Hollywood is basically composed of a tight circle of Clinton loyalists, who appreciate the President's talent for play-acting and his capacity for fulsome prevarication. To speak out might mean forfeiting future opportunities to cozy up with presidential power. So, Katie McGinty's mission was hardly impossible. She had only to soothe and placate, to set the celebs up for the large contributions that will soon be sought by the solicitors for the Clinton/Gore campaign. Only Begley stood up to challenge the administration's dismal record.