McCain is trying to make energy the centerpiece of his campaign, but his efforts seem to be a little clumsy.
First he did a complete about-face on offshore oil drilling and decided to support it, despite voting against it in the past.
Then he tried to blame Obama for high gas prices, running an ad that was universally panned as being full of lies.
Now he is turning the McCain magic onto nuclear power. But as usual he can’t keep his story straight:
- McCain calls for the construction of 45 new nuclear power plants, but without a plan for how to deal with the nuclear waste.
- Nevada is a swing state that McCain must win, but the storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain is a touchy issue for Nevada voters.
- So McCain tells the people of Nevada that he is against the storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, even though you were previously an enthusiastic supporter of storing waste at Yucca Mountain, and ignoring the fact that some kind of storage will be needed, especially if you are going to build lots more nuclear plants. As the Las Vegas Sun put it “If a man told you for years that he didn’t love you, essentially had no regard for you at all, and then suddenly, when he needed you, told you he adored you, would you fall for it?”
- When that didn’t work, McCain did yet another about face, and said at a campaign stop in Nevada that he was for storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.
Now, what makes this all ironic is that McCain made his big speech about building new nuclear power plants at the Enrico Fermi nuclear power generating station in Monroe, Michigan. This is the power plant that partially melted down in 1966, leading to the coining of the now-infamous term “China Syndrome”, and was memorialized in a book and a song both titled “We Almost Lost Detroit”.
McCain might claim that nuclear power is now much safer than it was back in 1966, except that the newer Fermi II reactor at the plant experienced a radiation leak in 2005, and the older (now decomissioned but still radioactive) Fermi I reactor caught fire just this past May.
And to add a dash of hypocrisy, McCain opposes the transportation of nuclear waste through Arizona — his home state — on its way to Yucca Mountain.