So the moment everyone's talking about after last night's environmentally-focused debate between gubernatorial candidates John Kitzhaber, Bill Bradbury and Allen Alley came right at the very end of the debate, when the opponents stopped played nice.
- Kitzhaber: Wins the tie award.
Given the chance to ask each other questions, Kitzhaber threw Bradbury a softball, tossing his Segway-riding opponent the chance to stump about his work on salmon. Kitzhaber had just recently reminisced onstage about the time he and Bradbury ate steaks together on the banks of the Rogue River, all in all playing up the “Hey we’re friends! This Bill learned a lot from me!” angle.
But when it was his turn to ask a question, Bradbury snapped back at Kitzhaber with a pointed attack. In front of the packed house of environmentalists, Bradbury questioned a $10,000 campaign contribution Kitzhaber received from Frank Foti, CEO of Cascade General, a company which the EPA and local authorities have been fined for polluting. “Why would you take contributions from such a big polluter?” said Brabdbury, asking whether his old steak-eating friend would send back the check.
“The answer is I do not intend to send Frank back his check, he’s a long time friend of mine and an upstanding citizen,” replied Kitzhaber, showing some edge. “If you are somehow implying that if someone gives me a contribution, I am in their pocket, then I am insulted, incensed and extraordinarily disappointed in you.”
Kari Chisholm over at BlueOregon called the attack “just plain dumb.” Bradbury himself received money from Foti back in 2002. And he didn’t return the check.
Anyway, one thing is clear: the gloves are slipping off in this race between two buddy-buddy progressives.
But, honestly, I don’t want to talk about nitpicky politicking. I want to talk about the hero of the night, Allen Alley. The affable pro-gun, pro-car, pro-business Republican candidate probably isn’t going to get many votes from the Sierra Club crowd, but last night he showed off his helluva sense of humor. He kept upbeat and friendly while telling the hundreds of Portland greenies that he’s never going to ditch his car and that the economy is more important to him than the environment.
Alley’s somewhat conflicted political philosophy can be summed up as this: Don’t regulate business. Do regulate the environment. Or, as he said it, “If we just let nature take it’s course, we’re going to wind up as victims just like the polar bears and the cougars.”
Here are several out of context quotes from Allen Alley which, I can assure you, made just as much sense in context:
Allen Alley on salmon: “I love salmon! Especially when I eat them!”
Allen Alley on our transportation future: “I believe in personal transportation alternatives, formerly known as ‘cars.’ Please don’t force me into mass transit.”
Allen Alley on his car: “I drive a SmartCar in Portland because the gun rack looks silly.”