The Senate fell one vote shy of passing an economic stimulus package that contained modest clean energy incentives, thanks to the Republican with the greenest public sheen of all - John McCain.
A day after his fortunes advanced a big step further toward becoming the Republican presidential nominee, McCain was a no-show for the Senate vote that would have protected the strong growth of the clean energy sector from decline over the coming year. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were both there, and voted yes.
It was the second time in two months that McCain was a no-show for clean energy, despite his green talking points. Last December, in a crucial vote on the energy bill, McCain was similarly absent. The Senate came up one vote short of including clean energy incentives in the energy bill. The bill eventually passed with massive subsidies to the fossil fuel industries, but not a penny for renewables.
The official vote on the current measure was 58-41, Senate Majority Harry Reid voting "no" at the last minute in a procedural tactic that allows him to revive the measure and try again.
Romney now wears the flip-flop crown in campaign-land, but it's McCain who is the reigning King of Clean Energy Hypocrisy. It further darkens the threatening cloud of suspicion that already hangs over the sincerity of his positive rhetoric on climate action.
The key issue in the current no-show vote: extension of the Production Tax Credit for the renewable energy industry. It would have added $3 billion to a bill aiming to inject more than $150 billion into the ailing economy.
The return on that investment? Preserving 116,000 jobs for the US economy and stimulating an additional $19 billion in investments.
Update: McCain was in Washington when the vote was taken:
Senators in both parties prepared to greet the presidential race's front-runners Wednesday, as McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., left the campaign trail to vote for a proposed $205 billion economic stimulus package. McCain returned to Washington but made an eleventh-hour decision to skip the vote, aides to his campaign said.
Update II: Jake Tapper of ABC defends McCain, reporting he would have voted "no" anyway. But also has this to say:
.....in the 110th Congress, out of 450 votes, . The only one who missed more was a senator who had a brain hemmorhage.
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