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Palin versus the GOP on BP

This tweet from Sarah Palin is coming in for the usual rounds of mockery of anything she says on energy. The background: White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel described Rep. Joe Barton's (R-Tex.) quickly-reversed apology to BP as reflective of the GOP's governing philosophy.

That's not a political gaffe. Those were prepared remarks. That is a philosophy. That is an approach to what they see. They see the aggrieved party here is BP, not the fishermen. And remember, this is not just one person. Rand Paul, running for Senate in Kentucky, what did he say? He said the way BP was being treated was un-American.

Palin's response: "Rahm, u lie."

But let's give Palin some credit here. There is a kneejerk tendency from many conservatives and Republicans to see creeping socialism in any action President Obama takes against a private company. And a large number of Republicans indulged that tendency when the BP escrow fund was announced. The Republican Study Committee called the fund (and the way it was put together) a "shakedown," opening 114 members of the House GOP to attacks on that front.

Palin, however, has never suggested this. She's criticized the president's response to the spill, but, uniquely among Republicans at her level, has based that criticism on what she sees as too much deference from Obama to BP. She explained much of this in a Facebook note responding to Obama's "ass to kick" moment. She even cited the Washington Post to build her case against BP.

As Governor of Alaska, I did everything in my power to hold oil companies accountable in order to prove to the federal government and to the nation that Alaska could be trusted to further develop energy rich land like ANWR and NPR-A. I hired conscientious Democrats and Republicans (because this sure shouldn’t be a partisan issue) to provide me with the best advice on how we could deal with what was a corrupt system of some lawmakers and administrators who were hesitant to play hardball with some in the oil field business. (Remember the Alaska lawmakers, public decision-makers, and business executives who ended up going to jail as a result of the FBI’s investigations of oily corruption.)

As the aforementioned article notes, BP’s operation in Alaska would hurt our state and waste public resources if allowed to continue. That’s why my administration created the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO) when we saw proof of improper maintenance of oil infrastructure in our state. We had to verify. And that’s why we instituted new oversight and held BP and other oil companies financially accountable for poor maintenance practices.

Nine times out of 10, Palin's pioneering media strategy protects her from tough questions while allowing her to get her points widely distributed. The strategy is not working here. There has not yet been much interest in portraying Palin as what she is -- a critic of oil companies who sees a difference between how the government deals with them and how it deals with, say, Chrysler. So on one of the issues where her brand of conservatism is closer to the public than rote, trust-the-corporation conservatives, she's had to start another silly fight to get noticed.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 8:50 AM ET
Categories:  Energy , Sarah Palin  
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