For the past week, Sen. George LeMieux has been obsessed with skimmers. So obsessed that he's found one to match his salmon tie, as you can see above.
Recently, Politifact.com busted out its bullshit detector and put LeMieux's claims to the test.
Politifact analysis is here. It points out that LeMieux claims that the Obama administration has "refused" to accept the offer of more skimmers in the Gulf.
Upon closer inspection, it appears LeMieux is guilty of grossly oversimplifying the issue. It's not a matter of just taking any ol' skimmer. Politifact cites a Washington Post article:
In some cases, the Post reported, the administration rejected offers because they failed to meet U.S. specifications: For example, the private consortium that serves as Norway's spill-response team uses a chemical dispersant that the Environmental Protection Agency has not approved.
Japan was offering protective booms and the Swedish Coast Guard was prepared to send three ships that can each collect 370 barrels of oil an hour. The Norwegian Coastal Authority, the Post reported, has approved sending nearly a third of the nation's spill response equipment to the Gulf if asked.
The State Department has accepted the offers of four countries -- Mexico, Norway, Netherlands and Canada -- and says it is reviewing and considering other offers.
That's in contrast to LeMieux's statement, which is that the White House has "refused" international aid.
But it's also clear the United States has either struggled to act on offers of foreign aid, or that processing the requests has been delayed. Japan, Sweden and Norway are all prepared to send resources or manpower to the Gulf should the U.S. sign off. Other countries also are willing to help, but have been kept on the sidelines. Taking that into account, we'll rate LeMieux's statement Barely True.
Hence, the nickname. And this episode really captures the essence of Barely True LeMieux. He found a legitimate, worthwhile piece of criticism. He could have used it constructively or destructively. That is, he could have recognized that the administration wants the skimmers as much as he does and joined with it in trying to remove the bureaucratic obstacles: the constructive path.
Instead, he chose the destructive one. Oversimplify, exaggerate, then blame, creating the kind of confusion that only makes matters worse. LeMieux's obsession with skimmers may seem genuine, but it's dwarfed by his obsession with scoring political points.