- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The prospect of listening to 68 witnesses testify over the course of four daylong congressional hearings can be daunting even for the wonkiest of lawmakers.

So what better way to liven up the marathon hearings of the House Energy and Commerce Committee than with some (at times dry and corny) humor?

When former Sen. John Warner, Virginia Republican, testified Friday on a panel with former Vice President Al Gore, he reached out to veteran Rep. John D. Dingell to empathize as a member of the World War II generation.

Recalling donning a U.S. Navy uniform during the last year of fighting, Mr. Warner suggested that Mr. Dingell, Michigan Democrat, was really in the “thick of the fighting” by that point in the war. Mr. Dingell corrected Mr. Warner, saying he hadn’t seen that much action during the war.

“Well, you are now,” Mr. Warner said, referring to the divisive debate over climate change legislation.

Earlier in the week, the committee’s ranking Republican, Texas Rep. Joe L. Barton, complimented one of the panelists on his comic(book) stylings.

“When I walked in, you’ve kind of changed your look. I thought I was looking at Ming the Magnificent of ‘Flash Gordon,’” Mr. Barton told Jeff Sterba, chairman of the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group. Mr. Sterba, much like the comic-book dictator (more accurately known as Ming the Merciless) was sporting a bald head and goatee at Thursday’s hearing.

Mr. Barton hastily added that it “is a good look, not a bad look.”

“I appreciate your taste, sir,” Mr. Sterba said.

CalEPATweet

The California Environmental Protection Agency regularly tweeted its trip to China, which wrapped up Monday, on the Twitter message service. California Environmental Protection Secretary Linda S. Adams and China Program Director Margret Kim posted their dispatches, in 140 characters or fewer, under the Twitter handle “@ChinaTrip.”

Among some of the more interesting tweets from the green trade mission:

“Panel moderator keeps using terms ‘black company’ verses ‘green company’ — what do you think about the labeling?” — tweeted April 22.

And, in a sign of the power of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s global celebrity status, there was this:

“We are doing an interview with China Daily — they’re very curious to know what the governor is like” — tweeted April 23.

California signed a memorandum of understanding with China last year promising to provide it with low-carbon fuel technology and other green assistance.

The week ahead

The House Energy and Commerce Committee began the time-honored process of delaying action on controversial measures this week, pushing back a series of planned bill-crafting sessions to next week.

Chairman Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, have promised to have a bill passed to the floor of the House by Memorial Day (May 25) but have been having trouble rustling up votes.

Check my write-up in Saturday’s paper for more information on what moderate Democrats are searching for in exchange for their votes.

The HR File

President Obama formally nominated Cass Sunstein to run the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs last week. The move won praise from environmentalists, who said the OIRA, an arm of the White House Office of Management and Budget, became an instrument for blocking environmental regulations under the Bush administration.

And an HR File update:

Phil Radford, the newly minted executive director of Greenpeace, showed Monday, when he was arrested outside the State Department, that he’ll have no trouble sticking to his grass-roots organizing background.

Mr. Radford and seven other protesters were arrested Monday while hanging a banner from a crane that showed a drawing of the Earth that read “Too Big to Fail.”

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