- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Consider one Phelim McAleer — not an ancient Celtic folk hero, but an Irish filmmaker who defuses climate alarmism and annoys activist celebrities. Mr. McAleer made the 2009 documentary “Not Evil Just Wrong” to counter global warming claims made in “An Inconvenient Truth,” produced with much ado by Al Gore some seven years ago. Mr. McAleer offers “FrackNation” to film audiences this year, meant to demystify and laud fracking, the oil and gas drilling technique that offends the likes of Mr. Gore — and the very green-minded Alec Baldwin.

The actor is in a fit of pique because Mr. McAleer was nominated by the Independent Oil and Gas Association to serve on a specialist’ panel at the upcoming Hamptons International Film Festival, where the anti-fracking film “Gasland Part II” will be showcased.

It’s a fracking fracas. Mr. Baldwin is on the executive board of the event, and will serve as a presenter. He is also a prolific tweeter, and so far this week has challenged Mr. McAleer to a debate, declaring him to be a “shill for gas companies,” “a lumpy old gas whore” and a “Breitbart-style, tape editing, Kool-Aid dispensing bs artist.” Among other things.

Mr. McAleer has accepted the challenge, but so far there’s silence from Mr. Baldwin, who has since blocked the filmmaker from his Twitter account. The Heartland Institute, meanwhile, has volunteered to fund and host a debate.

Mr. Baldwin, it’s up to you: Any time, any place, and any rules. Heartland will cover all expenses. If you’re not comfortable with Heartland covering your expenses, you’re welcome to pay your own way to the debate. Phelim certainly seems game,” observes Jim Lakely, spokesman for the nonprofit research group, in his invitation.

READ IT AND RANT

By now, most of the known universe has heard that amid a noisy Capitol Hill hearing examining IRS targeting of conservative groups, the federal agency itself came under fire Tuesday for spending $49 million on employee conferences, parties, hotel rooms, event planners, employee gifts, fancy speakers, welcome receptions and other gaudy fare. The source of the damning information: a 63-page report from the office of the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

Uh-oh. Read the report yourself here: treasury.gov/tigta, under the “recent audit reports” heading.

THERE SHE IS

“Defend the vision of our forefathers, streamline the tax code, reduce the national debt, oppose burdensome regulation, increase global demand respect for every individual.”

And so reads the brand-new campaign platform of one Erika Harold, age 33, Miss America 2003 and an attorney who Tuesday announced her intent to run for U.S. Congress in the 13th Congressional District of Illinois. She challenges Rep. Rodney Davis, a fellow Republican.

“I have a pretty thick skin at this point in my life, which I know you must have if you’re in politics,” Miss Harold said at her big afternoon reveal in Decatur.

GET INTO THE ACT

The “Skills Act,” “Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” “Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act,” “Obamacare Repeal Act.” Sound familiar? They are all legislative bills already introduced before the U.S. House, and part of a huge gaggle of acts that now numbers 2,526.

In the name of transparency, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia has fired up Cosponsor.gov, a comprehensive website that lists the bills and their explanations, while providing a social media-driven way for the public to weigh in on it all. Users can choose to “cosponsor” or at least follow the legislation. The site, naturally, accesses their Facebook credentials, and the reactions are complete in a moment.

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