Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Ken Salazar gets lots of gas for rising gas prices

There must be days when Ken Salazar wished he'd stayed in the U.S. Senate, rather than joining the Obama administration as Secretary of the Interior.

There must be entire months like that. March, for example, when Mitt Romney called for Salazar to be fired.

Salazar is joined on the Romney hit list by Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson -- as well as their boss, Barack Obama. "There's no question in my mind that these -- I call them the gas-hike trio -- that those three are on a mission to drive up the price of gasoline and all energy so that they can finally get their solar and their wind to be more price-competitive," Romney said two weeks ago, in a statement echoed at numerous appearances, as well as in a new campaign ad. "That's what they want to do."

But that's also what Mitt Romney wanted to do back when he was governor of Massachusetts, putting together a "Climate Protection Plan" for the state that called for more public transit and tax breaks for motorists who bought hybrid vehicles, according to a recent piece in the New Republic, which notes that Romney declared clean energy the future at a 2005 conference: "This is an industry that is going to be explosive in its growth in the next decade."

Seven years later, Romney's wife drives two Cadillacs and he's renovating a California beach house that not only has room for four cars, but an elevator for them.

According to the Washington Post, the American Energy Alliance is spending $3.6 million on an ad attacking Obama for gas prices that "nearly doubled" after he took office. In response, Priorities USA just introduced a response to the AEA ad, which notes that the oil industry has pledged $200 million to Romney's campaign. It's set to air in Iowa, Michigan, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico...and Colorado, but you can get a sneak peak below.

Senator David Vitter has blocked a proposed pay raise for Salazar -- who was limited to $175,000, the amount cabinet members were earning in 2005, when he became a senator, although current cabinet members earn $199,700 -- saying that he will keep it capped until Salazar approves six new deep-water permits a month. "I'm glad that I killed Ken Salazar's salary increase -- he has completely failed us on energy policy," Vitter said in a statement Friday, after an ethics complaint about his move had been dismissed. "And I'll absolutely place a hold on any raise for him in the future."

Forget thinking longingly of the U.S. Senate. There must be days...months, in fact...when Salazar wishes he were back at the ranch.

Read all about the strange fight to keep Big Oil from cheating in Alan Prendergast's "Drilled, Baby, Drilled."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun

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