During his appearance on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) shut down host Chris Wallace’s attempt to get him to agree with Republican talking points regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. Both Whitehouse and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) were on Sunday’s show to talk about the upcoming Senate vote on passage of the long-debated project. It is assumed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled the vote this session to help Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in her reelection bid.
Landrieu, who is one of the few Senate Democrats who support the pipeline’s extension, is currently battling Republican Bill Cassidy in a Senate runoff election after neither candidate pulled 50% of the vote on Election Day. By allowing a vote in the Senate, it allows Landrieu a chance to show her support for the pipeline, which could possibly help her chances with conservatives and moderates in the runoff. (Of course, it may also further alienate liberals and progressives.)
While interviewing the two senators, Wallace discussed the likely scenario of President Obama vetoing the bill if it is passed in the Senate. The host also allowed Thune to push the idea that Keystone XL will bring tens of thousands of jobs into the United States. Furthermore, Wallace tried to refute Obama’s latest statements on the pipeline with ‘facts’ of his own.
From the show’s transcript:
WALLACE: Let me — let’s drill down, if you will, into the merits of the Keystone pipeline. President Obama was pretty defiant about the pipeline and his approval for it this week in Asia. Let’s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I have to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices. Understand what this project is. It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land down to the Gulf where it would be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But let’s take a look at the facts. The State Department says the project would create 12,000 direct and related jobs near the pipeline, perhaps tens of thousands more further away from the pipeline. It’s not just Canadian crude, as the president said. It also would carry 100,000 barrels a today from Montana and North Dakota.
After this statement, Wallace then turned to Whitehouse and tried to get him to agree with the notion that the pipeline will lower gas prices in the United States and be a huge job producer. Whitehouse had none of it, tearing apart Wallace’s carefully selected GOP talking points. Whitehouse also pointed out that Reid has provided opportunities in the past for the Senate to vote on the pipeline but Republicans turned him down due to partisan politics prior to Election Day.
WALLACE: Senator Whitehouse, oil markets are global. If you put more supply into any part of the system, it’s going to lower prices at least marginally everywhere. The president is wrong at a bunch of these points.
WHITEHOUSE: Well, the different is that the tar sands is probably the filthiest fuel on the planet, and when you add that into the equation, you dramatically increase the effect of carbon pollution and of greenhouse gases. Now, our friends on the other side won’t agree that any of this is real. They will never treat climate change seriously. And so, they just look at the one side of the ledger, which is a bunch of jobs.
And I think it’s 4,000 direct jobs, which is good. I mean, I’m not going to under — you know, to try to deprecate that. But we’re growing at 200,000 jobs a month in this economy. And the last environment and public works bills for the highways would have been 1.8 million jobs.
So, this is no jobs game changer. And I should correct one thing — Harry Reid twice offered votes on Keystone on the Shaheen bill, and the Republicans refused to allow those votes because they didn’t want the Shaheen to pass before the election. It would have been good for her in New Hampshire to have passed a major piece of bipartisan legislation like that.
WALLACE: Let me —
WHITEHOUSE: So the Republicans had the chance to vote on Keystone and turned it down.
Of course, being that it is Fox News, Wallace let the Republican get the last word in on the subject. Thune ended up skirting concerns about pollution by saying the oil is going to get used anyway, so the United States may as well benefit from it. Thune also claimed that the oil from the tar sands was just going to replace oil from Venezuela. When Whitehouse tried to offer a counterpoint to Thune’s argument, Wallace cut him off and said they needed to move to another subject.
Still, Whitehouse went into enemy territory and stood tall. He didn’t allow Wallace to twist his words or get him to speak out against the President. Whitehouse stood by his principles presented a strong reason why Democrats should continue to refuse to vote for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).