As Rachel Maddow pointed out during this segment from Monday night's show, while the Republicans may be doing a lot of carping about the government investment in the failed solar panel manufacturer, Solyndra, it seems Republicans on the local level are more than happy to have the money coming into their areas for these same type of investments.
MADDOW: The federal government is quietly investing in renewable energy and making energy more affordable and more renewable. Happens in ways you don`t hear about much unless you read local business pages where federal money coming to town makes a big deal, makes a big difference. To the extent that Washington is talking about alternative energy right now at all, the talk has to do with a failed government loan to a company called Solyndra, a maker of solar panels.
In 2009, Solyndra got a loan for more than half a billion dollars from the U.S. government. This month the company closed its plant, laid offmore than 1,000 people and went bankrupt. Congress called its top executives to testify last week on Capitol Hill. The executives took the fifth. You can argue the Solyndra case any number of ways, whether President Bush was responsible for it since the loan started under him or whether you want to blame President Obama. Whether any administration should have known better to lend the Solyndra or whether this is just a bad bet in one of those public-private partnership that are never a sure thing but nevertheless elected officials are always saying, we need more of.
Solyndra made headlines in the latest round of funding for electrification. Of course the dirty word of clean energy anymore. And this week, the conservative weekly, "The Weekly Standard" put President Obama on its cover as President Solyndra, that what they want to call him trying to reduce his own presidency to one loan to one failed maker of solar panels.
But even as national conservatives want to make you feel bad about public investment in electricity, in energy, even some conservatives are pouring on the dollars for it in the states. The solar thing in particular makes sense to a lot of conservatives back home. Investing in infrastructure back home remains a core value. The same way it was a core value when the nation first started wiring our far flung farms. Just this month the Mississippi state legislature approved a $75 million loan to bring one maker of solar equipment to the state of Mississippi. Another solar company opened its doors in Mississippi this month with another 75
million bucks in loans and tax breaks from the state.
And as she pointed out, here's one reason the GOP may have trouble turning Solyndra into a huge scandal:
MADDOW: Lieutenant governor of Mississippi so excited about solar that he reassures Mississippians they will still use CO2, which is actually just the pollution part of energy. It`s not the fuel. He is excited about solar. He`s excited about jobs. He is excited, dare I say, about the greener, brighter future of Mississippi. Made possible if comes to pass by the collective will of the taxpayers to invest in it facilitated by Republican politicians like him.
There has not yet been a major Obama administration scandal, at least one that the Republicans like to harp on too much. They really want Solyndra to be a big Obama administration scandal. For that to work however, the country sort has to believe that investing in better electricity ideas is always a scam and that it feels like one to the American people. With our history, I think that is a tough sell.
For a few others, here's more from Media Matters on this non-scandal:
And from Think Progress: