Ron Johnson tries to undo his accidental truth-telling on Great Lakes oil drilling | WisCommunity

Ron Johnson tries to undo his accidental truth-telling on Great Lakes oil drilling

Ron Johnson, US Senate candidate, defender of British Petroleum, promoter of Great Lakes oil drilling, has a come to Jesus moment in a Monday news release:

“The 2005 Energy Bill, which Russ Feingold voted against, outlawed drilling in the Great Lakes. I would not support any efforts to overturn the provision which outlaws drilling in the Great Lakes as Wisconsin’s next U.S. Senator. Let me repeat: I would reject any and all efforts to drill in the Great Lakes.”

How, then, do you explain Johnson's earlier statement, which says just the opposite:

When Johnson was asked "Would you support drilling like in the Great Lakes, for example, if there was oil found there?" Johnson said, "The bottom line is we are an oil-based economy. There's nothing we're gonna do to get off of that for many, many years. I think we have to be realistic and recognize that fact and, you know, I, I think we have to, get the oil where it is, but we have to do it where it is."  [WisPolitics, Interview, 6/14/10]


The simplest explanation is often the most accurate one: When a first-time candidate is asked a new question for the first time, and hasn't been prepped by campaign handlers telling him what to say, the candidate is much more likely to tell the truth and share his/her real, candid opinion.

It's not like making a commercial. Nobody says "cut." You don't get a re-do. You have to live with what you said.

At least, that used to be the case. The rules seem to be changing, and the Wisconsin media seem much more forgiving about candidates who flip-flop from a less popular position to a more popular one these days. Scott Walker does it on almost a daily basis, and seems to get a pass.

Will Ron Johnson get away with it? Will the media say Johnson's against drilling in the Great Lakes, and defend him if someone claims he's for it? I can hear the reporters saying it: "Oh, that position was yesterday. He's against it now."

So, what has changed since June 14, when rookie Ron Johnson slipped up and said what he really thought? Well, he's taken a lot of flak for what he said.

And now the voters have learned that while Johnson was sticking up for Big Oil for the last month, he neglected to mention that he owns a big chunk of oil company stock, including stock in BP.

Today's statement from The New, Improved Ron Johnson is an attempt at damage control. Nothing more, nothing less. Lest we forget, here's the rest of his record on Big Oil:

Ron Johnson's Defense of Big Oil

“When asked whether the Gulf spill should prompt more caution before undertaking new oil-drilling projects, Johnson said no.” [“Johnson, Westlake Want Oil Drilling In Alaska,” Associated Press, 6/5/2010]

“This is not the time to be beating up on those guys [BP], quite honestly.” [The Ed Morrissey Show: Ron Johnson, 6/2/2010]

“[T]he first thing that came to my mind,” when he heard about the BP oil spill, was to double down on his support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), because a spill there would be easier to deal with, saying: “Wouldn’t it be far better if we were drilling in ANWR?” [The Ed Morrissey Show: Ron Johnson, 6/2/2010]

"Asked whether they shared the view of Big Oil-funded members of Congress like Texas Republican Joe Barton, who suggested that holding BP to account for the cost of cleaning up the Gulf Coast is a "shakedown," Johnson and Westlake dove into the goo." [Capital Times, 6/22/2010]

"Johnson climbed in bed with BP. The wealthy candidate derided the Obama administration's efforts to get money to pay for claims that are all but certain to exceed $20 billion "very troubling." [Capital Times, 6/22/2010]

As for Johnson's lame attempt to make it look like Feingold voted against a Great Lakes drilling ban, the record will show that Feingold led the charge in the Senate to ban drilling in 2001, and although it is a temporary ban it has been extended and is still in effect.

The vote in 2005 on making it permanent was part of Dick Cheney/Big Oil's energy bill, written by the oil companies and Cheney's other cronies. Here's Ralph Nader's analysis.


July 12, 2010 - 5:24pm