Hickenlooper’s pump fake won’t fool many voters

It must have been a busy couple of weeks for the computers at the Denver mayor’s office.

First, there was all that time Photoshopping Gov. Bill Ritter out of any pictures with Mayor John Hickenlooper. This week, they are probably just as busily at work removing President Barack Obama in much the same way, after witnessing all the help he was in the Massachusetts senatorial race.

If this trend keeps up, interim Sen. Michael Bennet may be next, and all that will be left will be oddly empty photos of Denver’s purposefully quirky mayor standing among shadows where other politicians once stood.

It’s a tough time in the mayor’s run for governor, as he discovers policies, speeches and actions he once thought popular are now in danger of becoming albatrosses, swinging mournfully about his neck. To try to head this off he has taken a proactive approach: reinvention.

For instance, recently on a Denver radio show, Hickenlooper, who has a long history of supporting ideas to prevent climate change, decided that he should announce he thought the pending cap-and-trade bill before Congress is “crazy.”

This seems a strange position from someone who in December spent several days in Copenhagen, at the climate-change conference, discussing ways to reduce carbon emissions.

Hickenlooper has also said he thinks new oil and gas rules adopted under Ritter were “excessive,” which surprised everyone since the mayor’s office is pretty darn near the Capitol and no one remembers him venturing over to complain about the rules during the tumultuous legislative debate about their adoption.

Maybe that’s because Hickenlooper believes we’ll be running out of oil, anyway, since he was a featured speaker in October 2009 at the International Peak Oil Conference in Denver. This group believes we are reaching world peak oil production and that the United States has to reduce its consumption.

The onslaught of new oil discoveries just prior to and after the conference has tended to make this group look a bit silly — that is, of course, unless you’re the mayor.

In 2007, Hickenlooper believed that Denver’s “climate action plan” should be a centerpiece of his second term in office, and he signed Executive Order 123, establishing the city’s sustainability policy. This included such liberty-supporting moves as hoping to increase rates for high-energy users, adopting mandatory energy-efficient building codes for new homes, remodeling and commercial structures and the use of so-called green concrete in public and private construction projects.

Hickenlooper’s short memory on these topics also includes one of the sillier ideas from 2008, when he and Gov. Ritter suggested that one could promote energy conservation by taking off one’s tie and adopting a more casual dress standard in offices between Memorial Day and Labor Day, allowing thermostats to be set higher.

These ideas are consistent with his position in 2006 where, according to citymayors.com, the mayor said the federal government was not moving fast enough to address the climate issue and that cities should attempt to conform to the controversial Kyoto protocol on their own. He is quoted as saying “... in terms of our climate we perhaps need to tackle it from the bottom up.”

So what’s up with Denver’s supergreen mayor now thinking cap-and-trade is crazy and our new oil and gas rules excessive?

Football fans will immediately recognize a “pump fake” by the mayor — where the quarterback looks one way, acts as if he’s going to throw the ball in that direction and then throws to the opposite side of the field.

In this case, though, I don’t think many people are going to be fooled. That ball’s going long and going left.

R


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