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George W. Bush ran for president on two major "restoration" themes: Dignity to the White House, and energy exploration and production to the continent. He promised to reverse an aggressive eight-year anti-energy policy. Last year, the House of Representatives passed a bill resembling the president's proposed framework, with strong support from labor and 36 Democrats.The administration requested the Senate merely pass this bipartisan product. As the war on terror progressed, public sentiment grew for increased domestic production. Things seemed headed the administration's way.Then came Enron. The public does support paying Americans, as opposed to Arab sheiks, to produce energy. But Bush's political opponents have created suspicion that Enron unduly influenced the administration's energy recommendations. True, Enron has yet to morph from a business scandal to a political one (despite endless sorties by issue-starved Democrats). Still, that story seems to have weakened politicians' spines beyond merely campaign-finance "reform." Tough rhetoric notwithstanding, there is evidence that Bush's passion for energy reform has gone wobbly.Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has scheduled (his) energy legislation for floor debate and vote to follow campaign finance. Word is that a Cabinet secretary communicated to Senate Republicans the White House request to "let Daschle's bill go." That is, put up a token fight but do not obstruct final passage. This was not the Republicans' plan. That means drop opposition to major increases in required automobile fuel economy (already established as killing thousands, by requiring less-safe cars), and don't go to the mat for opening any designated areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for energy exploration. It must be true. No one can make up something this inane. The message: It is more important to the White House to "get a bill," any bill, out of the Senate than to stick to principles articulated in the presidential campaign, and in the president's subsequent (now controversial) energy task-force report.Daschle created his bill after usurping the Energy Committee's jurisdiction, for their apparent willingness to pass a sensible pro-energy bill resembling the House version. Daschle's monstrosity is laughably larded with windmill and solar-panel pork, and more heavy-handed "climate change" programs. It does nothing to reverse the strangling of domestic-fuel production.This is not a surprise, as it was purportedly drafted by his "senior energy advisor," cum "senior climate fellow" at the Natural Resources Defense Council, John Podesta. Special interests drafting legislation? Pass the smelling salts.Daschle's "alternative" — to a bipartisan bill — does cleverly offer promise of more natural-gas pipeline from the north, to deflect from its affirmation of Clinton-Gore's prescription for dieting our way out of energy starvation. Eschewing public confrontation over this anti-growth trickery abandons hopes of a House-Senate conference negotiation addressing mere differences of degree.Instead, it would move this energy-policy hostage taking to a closed venue. No longer would Daschle & Company's obstruction be visible. The actual debate, obscured from public scrutiny, would be easily characterized as "environment" vs. "industry". Tom, Peter, and Dan will stridently regale the opposition's stoic defense of nature with no airing of the actual competing cases. Why does this prospect appeal to the White House?Is it a defeatist presumption that allies cannot expose the dishonest claims involving critters and "pristine" tundra? Worse, could this be a recreation of the appalling education-bill model, in which after minor rhetorical skirmishes the sole surviving principle was to "get a bill"? Is the administration plan, alternatively, the less craven but more naive "conference confidence"? Already, White House staff are heard to say (to amazement and horror) regarding "multi-pollutant" legislation amending the Clean Air Act, "we'll fix it in conference". Since when do cornered Republicans prevail on emotional issues in an election year? This same naiveté led to the recent "climate change" capitulation in vain hope of green hugs.Be it "education model" or naïve confidence, the White House surely is not immune to the following motivation: Acceding to a Democrat bill in the Senate, and allowing the battle to occur away from the cameras, deprives the opposition of their non-"green" trump card: "Enron wrote your bill!" In truth, Daschle's bill is so deadly to the coal industry, Enron might as well have written that obscenity.Democrats count on Enron-ing any pro-energy legislation - and its proponents - to ensure their anti-affordable energy policies live on. It appears the White House, in its desire to relegate shrieks of Enron influence to the back burner, is willing to roll over for Tom Daschle. That capitulation only ensures a significantly weakened final version of could otherwise be critical legislative reforms.