That's the overarching question that Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters seems to answer in the affirmative, reacting to last week's dismissal of California's nuisance emissions suit against auto companies. Well actually, Walters uses the phrase "stunt," and further expands that criticism to include other actions related to global warming pursued by both Bill Lockyer (who filed the nuisance suit as Attorney General, now serves as the state's Treasurer, and strongly defends himself in a letter published today) and Jerry Brown (California's current AG):
Global warming is the new political shibboleth, one that Al Gore, Arnold Schwarzenegger and other political figures exploit to the max. Lockyer and Brown wanted some of the spotlight and the lawsuit was a way of getting it. They knew, or should have known, that it lacked any legal merit but can claim credit for trying and blame the courts for their failure.
Lockyer is still at it. A day after Jenkins' decision, now-Treasurer Lockyer joined a coalition of investors and environmentalists in petitioning the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to gain fuller disclosure by publicly traded companies of the effects of global warming on their operations and profits.
Brown, meanwhile, clearly wants to return to the governorship three years hence and will use global warming as his vehicle. That's why, for instance, he's been suing, or threatening to sue, local governments for their alleged failure to consider global warming in their development planning.
Walters is disturbed that global warming has become a "political shibboleth" that Lockyer and Brown have sought to capitalize on. However wary of the issue's natural intersection with political ambitions a seasoned observer like Walters might be, this strikes us as a generally healthy and positive thing.
After all, the idea of ambitious state and local officials tackling large-scale problems that fall under their purview, and doing so in creative ways-- especially in the absence of meaningful federal action-- is as American as apple pie. Before he dismisses them as mere politicking, Walters should also weigh both the rationale behind Brown's and Lockyer's bold actions, and the support and coordination they've received from local officials and from other states.
If he then concludes they're still inapproporiate across the board and everyone involved is, to some degree, just playing to the masses, then so be it. But the fact that this has become such a hot topic in California and others states is, by far, a net positive in the broader scheme of things.