Thursday, March 30, 2006


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
March 30, 2006

It’s been more than a year since The New Mexican published an op-ed piece with Gov. Bill Richardson’s byline. The last one I could find was from January 2005 where the guv opined on Medicaid.

But that doesn’t mean Richardson hasn’t peddled his punditry to other publications.

In fact, not quite two weeks ago, he had an op-ed published in another paper.

In New Hampshire, in The Manchester Union Leader, the daily paper in the Granite State’s largest city. In the old days, under its late former publisher William Loeb, that newspaper was so right wing that it made Fox News look like The Vegetarian Times.

The paper published a Richardson piece March 18, the same day he went to that state officially to participate in a St. Patrick’s Day parade and to campaign for local Democratic candidates. But really, he made the trip to get better acquainted with the good folks of New Hampshire, which hosts the first presidential primary every four years.

No, the op-ed wasn’t about Irish pride.

It ran under the headline: “A plan for American energy independence.”

Richardson, a former U.S. Energy Department secretary, told his New Hampshire readers: “We must implement a comprehensive-energy plan, not just pop holes into every prairie, plain, tundra and shoreline — no matter if those pockets would have any significant effect on our national-energy needs.”

He didn’t forget the state in which he currently resides.

In a paragraph that surely will be repeated in dozens of stump speeches later this year, Richardson boasted: “No other state has made as many advances in clean-energy policy as we have over this period. And I’m proud to say that people now look to us as a leader on clean and renewable energy. We have succeeded because people want energy diversification, they want clean energy, and they want the jobs and growth that will come from replacing $250 billion a year of foreign oil with clean, American-made energy.”

Then he localized it, adding, “New Hampshire families know how important this is.”

The critics rave: The only reaction I could find to the Union Leader op-ed didn’t come from New Hampshire. It was from a blogger in Seattle.

“The piece itself verges on parody, it is such a generic recitation of Democratic talking points on energy,” the blog says. “ ‘Foreign oil,’ check. ‘Apollo-like project’, check. ‘Can’t drill our way out of the problem,’ check. ‘Big oil companies with record profits,’ check.”

Grumblings from some grumpy Republican?

No, this blogger was David Roberts, assistant editor of Grist Magazine, an environmentalist journal.

Referring to Richardson’s “Apollo-like” rhetoric, Roberts wrote, “Of course, I think it’s all to the good that this has so quickly become conventional wisdom. It’s all true. But Richardson has always struck me as a bit smarmy and unimaginative. This piece of writing, which may as well have come from the Democratic Central Computer’s Energy Phrase Generator, only reinforces that impression.”

Gallows humor: The Union County Democratic Party has an important rule that candidates must follow to participate in the party’s upcoming pre-Primary Enchilada Supper: The Francesca Lobato Rule.

The rule, as stated in a recent news release, is simple: ”Any candidate who makes a vicious attack on another Democrat will be lynched.”


“The rule arises from an enchilada supper at which Ms. Lobato made such an attack on Sen. (Jeff) Bingaman,” the news release explains. “The county chairman was heavily criticized for preventing the lynching of Ms. Lobato. No such protection is now afforded and a rope is available.”

Perennial candidate Lobato has run for Senate several times. She’s been a Democrat, a Green and an independent. Last time we looked, Lobato was suing to get on the Republican primary ballot for the U.S. Senate race, where three other candidates are competing to run against Bingaman.

The Union County Democratic Party’s Pre-Primary Enchilada Supper is scheduled for May 2 at the Airpark in Clayton.

Rave on!: A couple of items in the capital-outlay bill that escaped the governor’s veto pen will provide $350,000 to buy a theater and studio in Clovis once owned by Buddy Holly producer Norman Petty and turn it into a performing-arts center and Petty museum.
But hold on, Peggy Sue.

The building in question isn’t the actual studio where Buddy and The Crickets, Waylon Jennings and Roy Orbison recorded in the 1950s. The state is buying the old Mesa Theater, where Petty later moved his recording business, said Ken and Shirley Broad in a recent interview. The late Vi Petty, Norman’s wife, donated the theater to Clovis Community College.

The Broads own the original Norman Petty Studio on 7th Street in Clovis and manage the vast music catalog Norman Petty owned.

The Broads still conduct tours of the old studio if you call them in advance.


  1. Anonymous2:39 PM

    "...replacing $250 billion a year of foreign oil with clean, American-made energy.” How does he propose to do this? I missed it somewhere. It sure is a stump speech, and one that we've been hearing since the 1970's with no results on the ground.

  2. Anonymous10:07 PM

    You're right...we've been hearing the same old rhetoric with no results. I'd like to see access granted to ANWR, which would surely give us a result -- replacing foreign oil with an American source!

  3. Anonymous12:59 AM

    Sure, we'd all like clean, renewable, cheap power. Who wouldn't? But that's just dreaming. There's no way we're replacing oil as our #1 source of energy any time soon. So why not drill more at home, like Joel said, until that wonderful day we discover something better? Why set ourselves back in terms of global competition against China and India when all that does is send more jobs over to them to do it cheaper?


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