Sen. John McCain was once a "maverick" on climate change, so much so that he convinced one of his closest friends in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, to champion the issue. Now, as Graham and another McCain pal -- Joe Lieberman -- draft a climate bill that they hope will attract broader Republican support, McCain has taken up the GOP's talking points and slammed their efforts.
"Their start has been horrendous," McCain said on Thursday. "Obviously, they're going nowhere." McCain called the climate bill that passed the House in January a "monstrosity," and is echoing his fellow Republicans in calling the Senate effort "cap and tax."
McCain worked with Lieberman on a climate bill in 2003, and reintroduced the legislation in 2005 and 2007. Former aides say that McCain's work on the issue is the only reason Congress is debating it now, and Graham sounds equally mystified by his former mentor's reversal.
"I wouldn't be here on this issue without him," Graham said. "He's the guy that introduced me to the climate problem."
Lobbyists who have spoken with McCain said the Obama administration has not put enough political capital into the issue for it to be worth the Arizona senator breaking with his party over -- that a much stronger bipartisan effort would be necessary for him to do so.
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