Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Graham Nash Rock Capitol Hill
The practice of celebrities lobbying Congress has become so eye-rollingly clichÃ©d. Unless, of course, the lobbyists are Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash and Jackson Browne, who spewed forth such passion and knowledge on the subject of nuclear power plants over breakfast Tuesday morning that you just felt certain the aging rock stars' daylong blitzkrieg of Capitol Hill would somehow make a difference.
Their tutorial of the Sleuth and two of her Washington Post colleagues, Josh Freedom duLac and Rich Leiby, was an alternately enlightening and entertaining conversation - much of it amongst themselves.
"When you hear phrases like 'permissible releases' - what does that mean?" Browne asked incredulously. "Yeah, what does that mean?!" Nash echoed, his outrage punctuated by his British accent.
"I don't see them paying for the cancer that's developed," Raitt said, lighting up the room with her autumn red hair.
"Everybody has acknowledged that there's no safe dose," Harvey Wasserman, a longtime activist against nuclear power, chimed in.
"They're not ever going to tell you the truth - never, ever, ever," Nash said.
"To subsidize nuclear is to rob our safe-energy future," Browne said.
The musicians, together with Wasserman, are waging a pin-prick lobbying effort - not exactly a No Nukes-level concert tour - to remove a single tiny provision from the energy bill before Congress. The offending one-sentence provision would give nuclear power plants some $50 billion in taxpayer-funded loan guarantees.
"If we can get that out of there we won't have to do concerts," said Nash, of Crosby, Stills and Nash fame, removing any doubt that his activism against nuclear energy outweighs his music career at the moment. (Or maybe he's just so over live performances.)
The trio of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers is working to remove the loan guarantee provision, sponsored by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), before it gets put in the final energy bill being negotiated by the House and Senate. They're hanging their hopes on Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) to help them.
They voiced unhappiness with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who both say expansion of nuclear power plants should be considered. "I'm a little surprised by Obama - and even Nancy," said Nash, who wore a silver peace sign necklace.
Sounds like Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) may be getting their vote for president anyway. It was as easy as opening a door for the musicians.
When Raitt, Nash and Browne and Co. went to Capitol Hill after breakfast to begin their day of lobbying they ran into Kucinich. The underdog presidential candidate gave Raitt a kiss and waved the entourage past security, prompting joking that Kucinich had their endorsement.
Raitt, Nash and Browne have made a music video with Ben Harper and Keb' Mo' - a remake of "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield ("Stop, look, what's that sound, everybody look what's going down...") - which they've posted on their web site, nukefree.org. Raitt says that in just one week, their online petition to "stop the nuclear bailout" garnered more than 120,000 signatures.
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