Congressman Hodes Fig Leaf

By Bill Wilson, President Americans For Limited Government

In his famous dictionary, Dr. Samuel Johnson defines patriotism as “the last refuge of a scoundrel.” But, that was in 1755. And times change. Were he penning his tome today, the good doctor would very likely update his definition to read, “Politics is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

And he would very likely illustrate his observation with a thumbnail sketch of Paul Hodes.

Though new to the Washington scene, Mr. Hodes has already mastered a duplicitous trick of the trade that has taken other politicians multiple terms to even try. It falls under the category of “fig leaf legislation.” And, he has pulled it off in so brazen and callous a manner that one is forced to begrudgingly admire his transparent gall.

It all came about with Mr. Hodes’ introduction of his munificently monikered bill, “The Energy for Schools Act” (HR 6809). Now who, in all of the world, could possibly oppose providing energy to New Hampshire schools to help keep the kiddies warm as they endure yet another Granite State winter.

Mr. Hodes introduced his touchy-feely legislation with all the hoopla of a carnival barker. The congressman’s news release left little doubt that, in him, the people of New Hampshire had found the political equivalent of the Patron Saint of the Little Children.

There’s only one problem: Mr. Hodes energy bill is a complete fraud, It is type of transparently phony maneuver that Winston Churchill termed a “political placebo.” It is election year window dressing. It is fig leaf legislation

And Mr. Hodes knows it.

Paul Hodes knows full well that HR 6809 will never be voted on. It very likely will never even emerge from the bowels of the committee to which it was hastily consigned. And it will certainly never be enacted into law.

“The Energy for Schools Act” was introduced on August 1, 2008, by Mr. Hodes alone. Out of 435 members of the House, he could not find one other person to co-sponsor it with him. Significantly, not even his fellow New Hampshire representative, Carol Shea-Porter, bothered to join him in what she clearly knew was a cynical play to the gallery.

Once introduced, Mr. Hodes legislative fig leaf was mundanely assigned to the House Committee on Education and Labor. Mr. Hodes, it should be noted, is not a member of that Committee. And judging from his lack of co-sponsors, he apparently doesn’t have too many friends there, either.

To make matters worse, a quick visit to the Committee’s web site reveals that HR 6809 is not even listed among the more than 50 separate bills awaiting action. Nor is it listed among the more than 70 congressional resolutions. The Anthony DeJuan Boatwright Act is listed. As is the Popcorn Workers Lung Disease Act. And a resolution to recognize the University of California’s women’s water polo team.

But, Paul Hodes political placebo bearing the high-blown appellation “The Energy for Schools Act“ doesn’t even merit a mention. Nor should it. Because it was introduced for one reason and one reason only: to puff Paul Hodes resume and help him get re-elected to office.

What makes this cheap political trick all the more appalling is that while Mr. Hodes is posturing and pontificating over his phony legislation, he is altogether ignoring – in fact, obstructing – serious legislation that could actually help warm New Hampshire schools and even save children’s lives.

The American Energy Act (HR 6566), now languishing in Congress in large part due to Mr. Hode’s lack of support, would hit America’s energy crisis from every angle. It would spur the development of alternative energy sources. It would open the country’s oil-rich shale fields for immediate exploration. And it would finally lift the ban on offshore drilling Mr. Hodes has helped keep in place.

Should such a bill be passed, the effect on oil prices would very likely be immediate. Since President Bush lifted the presidential ban on offshore drilling, oil prices have fallen almost daily, in the largest sustained decline in U.S. history. Were Mr. Hodes and his Democrat colleagues to allow the passage of the American Energy Act oil prices could fall even further – and faster.

Forecasters are predicting that the impending winter weather facing New Hampshire residents could be one of the coldest on record. With freezing temperatures now only weeks away, even Ms. Shea-Porter has admitted, “Thousands of New Englanders will be unable to heat their homes.” And Maine’s Olympia Snowe has warned that Americans “could freeze to death.”

Rep. Paul Hodes could help prevent this imminent catastrophe. He could do it by helping America begin achieving energy independence now. And one way to start is by admitting to the people of New Hampshire that HR 6809 was nothing more than a transparent attempt to substitute spurious talk for serious action. Otherwise, he will continue defining what it means to be a scoundrel -- while helpless Granite Staters seek warm refuge from his political placebos.