Strange bedfellows 

Maybe it was just one of our extended hallucinations, but weren’t Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Spence Abraham, the incumbent she defeated last November, fairly bitter political enemies not too long ago? It’s possible we could be mistaken, but our recollection of the Stabenow-Abraham race is one of two candidates spending millions upon millions of dollars to convince us that the other one shouldn’t be representing Michigan in D.C. We also seem to recall the environment being a fairly critical issue in that contest, with enviros working tirelessly on Stabenow’s behalf.

We bring this up because Stabenow (at least we think it was her) recently informed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which was considering Abraham’s nomination to be the nation’s next energy secretary, that Spence would make a dandy energy czar.

“For example,” noted Stabenow, “Michigan residents still remember the high price spikes in gasoline during last summer’s driving season. At one point, we saw gas prices in some Michigan areas as high as $2.26 per gallon. Senator Abraham has witnessed these price shocks firsthand.”

Wow! Of course, by that logic, anyone who bought a tank of gas in Michigan last year would be qualified for the job. And the fact that Spence thinks the way to deal with this problem is to start pumping oil out of the ground as fast as possible, including the crude that lies beneath the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — well, Debbie makes no mention of that.

However, she did declare that, “I am pleased that a son of Michigan will be a member of the new Bush cabinet.”

We always thought of Spence as a son of something, but Michigan wasn’t usually the word that came to mind.

Stabenow spokesman Dave Lemmon told News Hits his boss feels a new president should be given “as much latitude as possible in appointing his cabinet.” Besides, says Lemmon, many of the environmental issues raised during the election have “no direct correlation” to Abraham’s role as head of the Department of Energy.

We think that our new senator was just playing a bit of politics. Why piss off the Repubs back home by speaking out against one of their favorite sons of Michigan? And why appear to be a sore winner fueled by sour grapes when opposition would be futile? After all, only one senator, Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, openly opposed Spence’s nomination. Reid told the Associated Press that Abraham “voted repeatedly to ship nuclear waste to the state of Nevada despite the overwhelming evidence that such a move was being made without regard for sound science and public health and safety.”

And so, maybe saying nice things about Spence was a distasteful but expedient bit of smart politics on Stabenow’s part. In that light, News Hits has agreed to forgive her this transgression if she redeems herself by voting against the abhorrent John Ashcroft as the next attorney general and environmental throwback Gale Norton as interior secretary.

Whaddaya say, Deb, is it a deal?

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette, the Metro Times news editor. Call 313-202-8004 or e-mail

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