After Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides staged a news conference in Malibu last Friday to announce his opposition to the proposed BHP Billiton LNG terminal off the coast of Oxnard, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election team went into rapid response mode.
Among the responses was that Angelides was being a "hypocrite" on environmental issues. The chief evidence cited for that assertion was a citation once issued by the EPA against Angelides' development company for violating provisions of the Clean Water Act. In an attempt to make a connection with the LNG issue, however, Team Schwarzenegger included a notation that two of Angelides' supporters, Assemblymen Joe Baca Jr. and Jerome Horton had cast key committee votes a month ago to scuttle a bill backed by LNG opponents that would have required the state Energy Commission to evaluate and rank the various LNG proposals in California.
The assertion was absolutely true. But does the fact they voted against the bill and also support Angelides contribute to making the candidate a hypocrite on the issue?
Using that logic, Schwarzenegger's signing of the landmark global warming bill last week would have to be seen as one of the greatest acts of hypocrisy in political history. All but two of the governor's Republican supporters in the Legislature voted against that bill — 30 GOP Assembly members and 14 GOP senators. Sen. Bill Morrow abstained. Only Assemblywoman Shirley Horton supported the bill.
Among those voting against the greenhouse gas-reduction bill were two Republicans who are on the statewide ticket, including Schwarzenegger's nominal "running mate," lieutenant governor candidate Tom McClintock.
Does that make Schwarzenegger a "hypocrite" for supporting the bill? Hardly. No more than Angelides is being hypocritcal by opposing a project when two Democrats who support him voted against the LNG bill. Playing the guilt-by-association game is particularly risky for the Schwarzenegger camp, given that its candidate has bucked Republican Party orthodoxy on a number of high-profile issues this year.