David Roberts has posted the actual transcript of last night's GOP presidential exchange on California's clean cars standards, and a quick look reminds us of something critical that we failed to note in our excitement that the Bush administration is now isolated on this legal point.
All of the candidates did express support for California's right to take action, with varying degrees of enthusiasm (as per the Detroit News, Mitt Romney is desperately trying to reconcile his answer with earlier remarks implying that he wanted preemption language in December's energy bill). But none of them, including the front-runner in an active position to do something about it, spoke out (nor, to be fair, were they asked) about lifting a finger to overturn EPA's decision before 2009.
All things considered, Senator Barbara Boxer's bill declaring the waiver granted (which now has 21 co-sponsors, and growing each day) is a fairly modest piece of legislation-- one that Senator McCain should have no problem getting behind, if he's not intending to already. It's one thing to answer a general question posed before a national television audience (and, as McCain joked in his response, with Governor Schwarzenegger's physically-imposing frame nearby), though its a great thing; it's another to really do something about it.
Senator McCain spoke passionately last night about how states like California and Arizona are getting it right on global warming, and pushing all of us forward in an appropriately urgent way. Time is indeed of the essence here, and the sooner California can move forward and potentially bring the rest of us along with it, the better. With the world watching what American states are doing, anyone who aspires to be commander-in-chief should co-sponsor, and actively work to line up votes for, Senator Boxer's critical efforts to overturn EPA's now-isolated decision sooner rather than later.