Gov. Guzzlenator: “Nothing is true, everything is permitted,” Hassan-I Sabbah, master of the Order of the Assassins, allegedly murmured on his 12th-century deathbed. This week, with Arnold “save the planet” Schwarzenegger appearing before the Council on Foreign Relations, the British Conservative Party, and on the covers of Newsweek and Outside magazines in his latest guise, that of über environmentalist, it’s clear that Hassan was way ahead of his time.
It’s well known that Arnold personally helped develop GM’s Hummer, a 10,000 pound, 10-mile-per-gallon military monstrosity for commercial use. In fact, it’s one of the few achievements Schwarzenhummer can point to in the 1990s. Bites is not the first critic to question how, in the space of a few short years, the man perhaps more responsible for backsliding on fuel efficiency than any other private individual is now perceived as an environmental savior.
Unless Bites missed the announcement, the Bübengrabber still owns at least four of these behemoths, but much as the media and the public have done with the many allegations of womanizing leveled at the governor, let’s give him a free ride. After all, given the price of gasoline these days—pushing $4 per gallon—it can’t be easy unloading those Hummers.
Too little, too late: Chalk up Schwarzenegger’s triumphant transformation to yet another victory of political style over substance. The “former action movie superstar” has been an environmentalist since he took office, notes former SN&R political columnist and current Arnold booster Bill Bradley on his blog, New West Notes. It’s just that no one noticed because his “previous political team did nothing to promote any public awareness of what Schwarzenegger was doing.”
Need good publicity? Don’t bother doing anything good. Just switch publicists.
SN&R has been one of the few to note that while Schwarzenegger supports various environmental proposals in theory, it’s a different story when it come to putting theory into practice. Last year, for example, he vetoed legislation that would have required half of all cars and light trucks sold in California to run on alternative fuels. After signing the Democrat-authored global-warming initiative with great fanfare, the governor quietly issued an executive order undermining some of its key provisions.
While Bites applauds the governor’s apparently heartfelt environmental conversion, what it all means remains to be seen. All this talk about setting future carbon-dioxide limits becomes superfluous when many experts are telling us that now is already too late.
Greenwash: Republicans have been quick to follow Schwarzenegger’s lead, since it requires only rhetoric, not tangible results. Thus, we have Rep. Dan Lungren, citing an affinity with John Muir, calling for the restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley in a recent Sacramento Bee op-ed.
This is the same Dan Lungren who, according to the progressive news site Common Dreams, refused to ban offshore drilling, voted against the Clean Water Act, opposed the public’s right to know about releases of dangerous chemicals in their neighborhoods, opposed the public’s right to sue polluters and opposed enforcing safe drinking-water standards.
And that’s just his record in Congress. As state attorney general, Lungren refused to protect public access to the coast, cut back the prosecution of polluters by 95 percent, supported gutting the state’s oldest water-pollution law and was the only attorney general who refused to sign a letter requiring federal facilities to comply with hazardous-waste laws.
No doubt Lungren and other Republicans will attempt to fashion themselves as environmentalists for the upcoming political season. It’s up to us to hold them accountable for their actions. Otherwise, everything will be permitted.