Van Jones hits the road

Obama’s enviro czar leaves White House amid controversy

President Barack Obama’s pick as the administration’s environmental czar quietly resigned his White House position over the Labor Day weekend.

Van Jones, the well-known Oakland-based activist and author, left his post as Obama’s environmental adviser about seven months into the assignment. His resignation followed weeks of criticism from Fox television’s Glenn Beck and other conservative pundits, who have called the Yale-educated environmentalist an extremist based on his past.

About five years ago Jones signed a petition of 9/11 conspiracy theorists who questioned whether the federal government had foreknowledge about the terrorist attacks. During a more recent speech, he referred to Republicans as assholes—commentary he later apologized for.

Jones, author of the best-selling book on green jobs called The Green Collar Economy, has maintained that critics’ “vicious smear campaign” has been a tool to distract politicians on the eve of the debate on health-care reform. He bowed out with these words: “I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past.”