Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seemed to establish a new role for himself Wednesday night — party attack man on Republican energy policy.
Reid: Offshore drilling is 'pure baloney'
Fresh from his energy summit in Las Vegas, which got a nod in his prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention, Reid even sounded a little like a Cabinet energy secretary.
Rather than lift the crowd with the optimism that has soared through the hall in Denver, Reid played history teacher, lecturing that “the last hundred years has been a toxic mix of oil and war” and warning of the “snake oil and quackery” peddled by Republicans to solve the nation’s energy crisis.
He offered this critically folksy portrait of the Bush administration’s energy legacy:
“The man in the Oval Office has tipped his hat over his eyes, kicked back his chair and snoozed at his desk,” Reid said. “Charged with protecting our national interests, he slept on duty while his vice president conspired with oil industry cronies.”
Democrats are trying to assert themselves on energy policy after Republicans gained ground this summer in their pursuit of offshore drilling. Polls show most voters support drilling in the ocean, and Republicans have criticized Democrats for being reluctant to allow an up or down vote on a policy some seriously oppose.
Reid reminded his audience that drilling alone won’t quench the nation’s thirst for oil, saying Republicans have “sold their magic beans with a promise of a giant beanstalk.”
Energy is a prime issue in the West, which is trying to lead the nation toward renewable energy development, making Reid an apt spokesman.
In fact, Nevada seemed to offer itself as the go-to state when it comes to energy policy. The state is home to vast renewable resources and is ground zero in the nation’s fight over nuclear expansion with the proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.
When Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley cast the state’s votes for Sen. Barack Obama as the party’s nominee, she said Obama has a vision for the West in developing renewable energy and keeping nuclear waste out of Yucca Mountain.
Still, Reid’s was a tough act, coming after the historic roll call nomination and before former President Clinton brought the crowd to its feet.
The audience kept quiet until the Nevada delegation interrupted with just one cheer, waving a single, homemade “I (heart) Harry” sign.
Reid confided to Nevada reporters backstage that he was nervous. But he said he thought he’d delivered his message well — “that John McCain is trying to sell snake oil, quackery, and I made it pretty clear.”