Turn on the TV in Washington, D.C., and you'll see the familiar face of now-former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in a new role: poster child for opposition to a clean energy economy.
The grassroots advocacy group MoveOn.org launched a television ad this week that bills Palin as the "new face of Republican opposition to clean energy" and, just as importantly, to the clean energy jobs the Obama administration hopes to create.
"Now that Palin has more free time, she has a new pet project: standing in the way of millions of new American green jobs," the ad says. "Tell Congress, don't side with Sarah Pain, stand up for our clean energy future."
Palin, plucked from obscurity when Sen. John McCain named her as his vice presidential running-mate last year, had 18 months left as governor when she abruptly resigned and handed the reins to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell on Sunday. She told Alaskans in her farewell speech that she felt it was her duty to avoid the "typical, politics-as-usual, lame-duck session."
"With this decision, now, I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right, and for truth," she said.
Palin hasn't publicly disclosed what she'll be doing, beyond allowing the presidential campaign rumors to swirl and saying she'll campaign for other candidates. However, in a recent opinion article in the Washington Post, she made her position on one thing plain:
"Let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be: I am deeply concerned about President Obama's cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage."
MoveOn.org, as well as Sens. John Kerry and Barbara Boxer and several environmental leaders, took exception to Palin's arguments against the bill, including her lack of any mention of climate change, which is already affecting her own state's coastal communities. The Obama administration's argument for the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) bill, and the argument in the MoveOn ad, is that clean energy jobs will put people to work, help fuel a national recovery and start solving the problems of climate change.
The ad, running on national cable and Washington, D.C., stations, makes its point most effectively as an image of Palin's opinion article fades to a photo of workers in hard hats installing solar panels.
"We're happy to highlight former Governor Palin's attempt to take the lead in arguing against clean energy legislation, because she's a truly unpopular figure outside of her own very narrow base," said MoveOn founder Wes Boyd. "We think she helps us get good energy and green jobs legislation by opposing it."
A new Washington Post/ABC poll offers some insight into the nation's view of the former governor. The poll of 1,001 adults nationwide found that 40 percent of Americans see Palin in positive terms, down from about 60 percent late last summer. Among her Republican base, 70 percent see her in positive terms. However, 57 percent of all those polled said Palin did not understand complex issues.