I Can’t Make this Stuff Up: Patrick McHenry and the Energy Bill

Since every other blog in the universe has posted on it, I thought I should as well. Maybe I’ll take a different tack than others.

Anything pertaining to cycling lifestyle is of interest around here and we, like other cyclists, took umbrage last week as this video circulated. McHenry’s speech is ugly and insulting, but it’s also incredibly lame and that’s what offended me most deeply. When a motorist runs down a cyclist because “bikes are stupid,” he may be using violence in place of argument, but at least there’s violence. McHenry’s got nothing. Bear with me while I expound.

First, let us take note of Rep. McHenry’s intellectual method of critiquing the Democrats’ provision in the energy bill.

None whatever.

There may well be lots of things wrong with the Democrats’ energy bill or their specific proposal to offer tax incentives to bicycle commuters, but rather than point any of them out, use logic, or offer an argument, McHenry substitutes a sarcastic tone. It’s Argumentum ad Muntziam. He’s not actually criticizing the Dems, he’s just pointing and sneering.

Note also, that he has his facts grossly wrong. The Democrats aren’t offering a 19th Century solution to a 21st Century problem–they’re offering a 19th Century solution to an 18th Century problem. The phenomenon of Supply and Demand was well know by the time Adam Smith published Wealth of Nations, as was international trade. McHenry seems to believe that he has uncovered a new and unprecedented problem: a resource sought by the American public located somewhere other than here. God help us, how will we untangle such a Gordian Knot?

Of course McHenry and the Republicans are at a loss in the face of this problem. Over the last 60 years the party has assiduously worked to lobotomize and emasculate itself, laying down tools like trade and all-out war that could solve such a dilemma.

Barry Goldwater was the last gasp of intellectual solvency and self esteem in the party, which were finally abandoned as part of his throwing in the towel. After his failures in 1964, the religious conservative wing of the party heaved a sigh of relief, knowing they would never again have to offer evidence or argument to support their positions. Not long after, the party castrated itself rather than suffer any longer the label “Hawk”–a vicious aspersion which they have since spent the last 50 year attempting to disprove through one incompetent military action after another.

Patrick McHenry of course is the ultimate payoff for the Republicans’ hard work: empty political bluster, lamely delivered, proudly proclaiming a total absence of ideas without even mindless, reactionary war mongering as a redeeming virtue.

Plus, bikes are cool and he’s short and his hair looks funny.

Try the veal, I’m here all week!


What a moron!  God forbid we as a nation should ever just use less!  He must believe in our divine right as Americans to drive.

One wonders whether he failed at learning to ride a bicycle in his childhood, had one taken away from him by the neighborhood bully, or maybe he was just naughty and Santa didn’t bring him a bike.

I say drop his short ass in the Netherlands for a month with no car, and let him figure it out! 

Wait….it might take more time than that.

I especially love how I went to his website to send an email and it only accepts messages from his direct constituency. I know I can work around that, but it’s amusing nonetheless.
I would like to say that as someone who is independent but still conservative, this kind of rhetoric only serves to divide even more whole pushing everyone away from any sort of solution. Responsible use of energy is not a political issue. Not using oil is not a political issue. Lame and irritating commentary and finger pointing, unfortunately, is.
Mr. McHenry, Republicans like to think that their party and this country were built on the pillars of sacrifice and hard work. You promote neither. You promote the idea of a soft and supple American, one that needs machines of convenience merely to survive. C’mon, prove me wrong, and while you’re at it, try to ride a bike sometime, you might like it. You might get a bit less doughy, too.

Great comments, though I’ll disagree with a couple of points:


Why do you suggest that the U.S. needs to use less oil? It’s not in short supply and, even if it were, so what? It’s no use stuck down in the ground, so let’s use it up. If the supply ever does grow short, prices will go up, and usage will go down. In the mean time, any individual who wants to use less is free to do so—by riding a bike, or getting a more efficient vehicle, or switching to bio diesel, or living in a cave and wearing a hair shirt (which will also help reduce dependence on foreign clothes).


Agreed that Pudgy McHusky could stand to ride a bike, but are you suggesting that one of our country’s pillars is sacrifice? IMO, that’s one of basic screw ups of Conservatives and Republicans, and it empowers the mealy-mouthed lame-os like McHenry.

Sacrifice was never a pillar of our nation—“the pursuit of happiness” was, though, and that’s hardly a credo of sacrifice. If Republicans would stop lamely clinging to “sacrifice” as a moral safe-haven and instead uphold real American values like wealth, pride, enjoyment, and hard work, they might stop churning out McHenries (and as a side benefit, might also adopt policies of actual self defense).

I take issue with your roundly denouncing Republicans having misadventures for the last 50 years with war.  NAM and the no win policies were a democrat invention.

R L Draper:

I note a tone of sarcasm in your comment, but nevertheless, I will point out that antipathy for Republicans does not imply love for Democrats.

Perhaps the Dems conceived the no win policy, but the Republicans bore it and brought it to term.

For instance, the Democrats may have wrung their hands and fretted in public, but in WWI and WWII, they ultimately acted to wipe out our enemies.

By contrast, the Republicans bluster in public, but wet their pants when it comes to acting. Thereby they—more so than the Dems—have given every decrepit state in Asia permission to kill our citizens and treat us with contempt.

What an idiot!

We wouldn’t have been in the current situation if we had the “ride a bike” mentality earlier in history.

I was hit by a pickup truck, and put into a coma, while cycling to UW-Milwaukee five years ago. So, if anybody should be wary of cycling, it’s ME.

But cycling is addictive like crack cocaine, and I’m totally hooked.

Unfortunately, my damaged brain gave me messed-up balance, and I’m unable to ride a bike anymore. I now, instead, ride a trike.

I hope people look at me and get inspired to cycle themselves. “Hell, if even that crippled guy can do it; so can I!”

So, even though I’m a cripple with brain damage, I’m still spending NOTHING on gasoline.


Isn’t the real point that we need to use less oil so that it lasts longer and therefore gives us time to develop more efficient energy production that is also not as damaging to the environment.

Cycling isn’t only about using less oil, it is about being a healthy person so that you don’t have to go and see the doctor due to being obese or your arteries are clogged up and your heart can’t handle it when you walk to the corner store for the milk ... or ride to the corner store.

I don’t believe it is my right to drive a car and use the oil, it is a privilege that we should try and appreciate. just because something is there doesn’t mean we have to use it.

Why not use some of it for situations that we NEED it for. When the oil runs out and you can no longer use cars, how long will it take for the Ambulance to arrive after you have had your heart attack due to lack of fitness .....

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