Watch ‘Former' Lobbyist Barbour Pander for Big Energy

... and you wonder why Mississippi ratepayers are being asked to pay for a risky Entergy plant venture in advance, and whether it comes to fruition or not! Robert Novak writes in the Washington Post about vice presidential hopeful Pawlenty of Minnesota. But it's the part buried within that should interest Mississippians:

He gets high grades from conservative fanciers of Republican horse flesh, such as Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman and Pawlenty's fellow Minnesotan, Vin Weber. Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist approves of Pawlenty's record, save for one hike in cigarette taxes. The censorious Cato Institute gave him a C for fiscal responsibility in his first term (compared with its grade of F for Mike Huckabee of Arkansas).

Pawlenty has largely avoided the fate of other Republicans who were elected governor on a conservative platform and then fell prey in office to the lure of spending projects and concomitant tax increases. But he has become entwined in the National Governors Association's buddy system by serving as its chairman. That allied him with Rendell and put him at odds with conservative Republicans. Govs. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Mark Sanford of South Carolina were not happy when Pawlenty and Rendell proposed an NGA-sponsored sweetening of the Bush administration's stimulus package of $6 billion in federal Medicaid funding and $6 billion in flexible block grants.

As co-chairman of the association's energy committee (with Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who gave the Democratic response to President Bush's State of the Union address this year), Pawlenty proposed state goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But at a "governors-only" session that opened the meeting on Saturday, Pawlenty encountered adamant opposition. Barbour led the way for governors from energy-producing states, including Republican Rick Perry of Texas and Democrat Steve Beshear of Kentucky. The issue of greenhouse gases was "set aside," Pawlenty told me, "because we realized there was no consensus."

McCain, who has co-sponsored a global warming bill with his friend and supporter Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), got more of the same over dinner with Republican governors that night. They made clear that energy was a major issue and that they hoped McCain would be sensitive to energy producers. By all accounts, the prospective presidential nominee was receptive.


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