Obama Is Not The Spokesperson-In-Chief For Clean Coal

We were going to ignore the latest nonsense from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) until we saw this week's Bloomberg story:  "Clean-Coal Debate Pits Al Gore's Group Against Obama, Peabody."

In the article, Bloomberg cites a recent ACCCE ad blitz as a sign that President Barack Obama is in the corner of the coal industry when it comes to "clean coal technology."

Score one point for ACCCE, which has been peddling that malarkey for weeks now.  And deduct one point from the truth, which is not something that ACCCE appears to care very much about.

The chances are pretty good that you've seen this ACCCE TV ad at least once in recent days.  It's the one where ACCCE uses sound bites from an Obama stump speech delivered last September 9th in Lebanon, VA.   (That's the campaign appearance that previously made history for the candidate's comparison of something to make-up applied to the face of a certain barnyard animal that in no way resembles Sarah Palin.)  

You can see extended excerpts from the Obama speech courtesy of the Roanoke Times.

There's just one problem here: ACCCE couldn't resist taking liberties with the Obama speech.   In fact, it's such a misleading depiction of what Obama said that it deserves to be enshrined in the misleading advertising hall of shame.

Don't take my word for it.  Watch the ACCCE ad first here and then go to the second video excerpt from the Lebanon, VA., stump speech. (Fast forward the video excerpt to 01:27.)  You will find the final problems when you compare the ACCCE ad to the Obama speech:

  • 1. When Obama talked about "clean energy" first, he talked about wind and solar - not coal.
  • 2. When Obama talked about "clean coal technology," he made it very clear that it doesn't exist today. In fact, he compares what is needed to get the technology to the President John F. Kennedy's famous challenge to the nation to "put a man on the moon in 10 years." This was certainly no ringing endorsement of where the coal industry is today on clean coal technology - and that is nowhere!
  • 3. When Obama talks about "5 million new jobs," he is taking about "clean energy," not coal, as the ACCCE TV spot implies. In fact, the ACCCE ad precedes the Obama jobs sound bite with a screenshot that says "clean coal ... creating jobs". And that is what - in Ethics 101 - is called lying. If you are more charitable than me and want to call it misleading, that's your call. Either way, ACCCE is distorting what happened to make it look incorrectly like Obama is their #1 Fan.

Of course, other industries have attempted in recent weeks to hijack Obama as their spokesperson.  But it's hard to imagine anything worse than being shanghaied by an industry that is as dirty as coal ... and one that is working in direct opposition to Obama's goals on addressing global warming.

No wonder the Administration is looking into cracking down on the unauthorized use of the President's image for commercial and issue advocacy purposes.   After what ACCCE has done with its new advertising campaign, who can blame the White House for not wanting to be made the unwilling spokesperson for an indefensible cause.

About the Authors

Pete Altman

Director of Federal Campaigns

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