McCotter Debates Tourist as Protest Winds Down

Posted August 25, 2008 at 7:31pm

While millions were tuning in to the Democratic National Convention, a small band of Republicans continued to protest on the House floor for a vote on oil drilling Monday, even debating tourists.

At one point, Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) engaged in a one-on-one impromptu debate with a Prius-driving tourist who was having none of the Republican calls for domestic oil drilling as the key to lowering gas prices.

Randolph McGrorty, 45, of Miami, was touring the Capitol when his tour guide noted they could go on the House floor because of the GOP protest. Once there, McGrorty quickly grew frustrated at the drilling-centric Republican rhetoric and started asking McCotter why the Republicans don’t push hybrids instead as a transition to an economy less dependent on fossil fuels.

In front of a few dozen tourists and a few lawmakers, McCotter dismissed the idea as going “cold turkey,” to which McGrorty retorted, “A hybrid is not cold turkey, a hybrid is a mix.”

McGrorty suggested that hybrids and other technologies in a few years could dramatically reduce oil consumption until other technologies emerge, including wind and solar. “Unleash it all,” he said.

McCotter dismissed alternatives as the solution, saying they are “less than 5 percent” of the economy.

“Now,” McGrorty retorted.

“How long do you want them to wait?” McCotter said, referring to those suffering from high gas prices.

“One year,” McGrorty said.

McCotter said that “reality disagrees” with McGrorty, and said the problem can’t be regulated away or taxed away.

“You can’t just say I’m crazy,” McGrorty said. “I can say the same thing about you.”

McGrorty then noted ExxonMobil’s billions of dollars in profits, and McCotter came to the company’s defense, noting they also paid billions in taxes.

At that point, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) came to McCotter’s rescue, suggesting to McGrorty that if he wanted to debate a Member on the floor, he should “go and get a majority of members of your district” to vote him into office.

McGrorty left shortly thereafter.

McGrorty said in an interview that he drives a Toyota Prius. “I wish they were made in America,” he said.

McGrorty said the country should reduce reliance on fossil fuels and noted that new drilling would take years to materialize.

And he said he wasn’t impressed with McCotter, after being told by a reporter who he is. “He wasn’t as articulate as the 10-year-old kid next to me,” he said.

McCotter’s compatriots lauded their debater’s performance. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) referred to his name, saying that it sounded like a Founding Father, and that he talks like one when he uses “five-dollar words.”

At any rate, the protest is starting to lag, lasting just a few hours and featuring about 10 Republicans.

The press galleries are locked up with all of the attention on the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and even the tourist crowds have thinned with the opening of schools in many parts of the country.

Jessica Brady contributed to this report.