The Campaign Spot

FactCheck.org: Don’t Worry, Joe Biden Was Just Clueless About Coal Plants

FactCheck.org once again rides to the aid of the Obama campaign, insisting that we are to believe the statements of the Obama campaign and not our lying eyes.

Their argument boils down to, ‘when Joe Biden said ’We’re not supporting clean coal,’ and ’no coal plants here in America’, he obviously didn’t mean it because Obama campaign position papers say otherwise.’
This is the exchange in question:

Woman: Wind and solar are flourishing here in Ohio, why are you supporting clean coal?
Biden: We’re not supporting clean coal. Guess what? China’s building two every week, two dirty coal plants, and it’s polluting the United States. It’s causing people to die.
Woman: So will you support wind and solar …
Biden: Absolutely, before anybody did. The first guy to introduce a global warming bill was me, 22 years ago. The first guy to support solar energy was me, 26 years ago. It came out of Delaware. But guess what? China’s going to burn 300 years of bad coal unless we figure out how to clean their coal up. Because it’s going to grow in your lungs and there’s nothing we can do about it. No coal plants here in America. Build them if they’re going to build them over there, make them clean, because they’re killing you.

The McCain campaign is completely within its rights to quote Biden and note that an Obama administration’s support for America’s coal industry is in doubt. Sure, the Obama campaign says they support it; they want to win votes in Western Pennsylvania, too. But a fact-checking organization ought to look beyond the candidate’s words and at their record (as FactCheck.org refused to do on Obama’s positions on guns).
They note:

 In 2007, Obama sponsored an amendment to a budget resolution to add $200 million for Department of Energy work on clean coal technology. (It was approved by unanimous consent.)

Unfortunately, their link doesn’t work, but I’ll take FactCheck.org at their word. Nonetheless, they really ought to mention that a budget resolution doesn’t actually allocate any money; that’s done through the appropriations process. The budget resolution is a blueprint that says, ‘we ought to spend money this way’; the appropriations bill says, ‘spend the money this way.’ Despite FactCheck.org’s sentence that makes it sound like Obama pushed for the funds, no money was actually committed to clean coal technology.
The Obama response is, “Despite his emphatic and repeated statements, Biden didn’t really mean to say what he said.” Fact-checking organizations are derelect in their duty if they blithely sign off on a campaign’s excuse of temporary insanity.

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