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I should have driven to Springfield last Wednesday to hear John McCain speak, because then I might know whether to believe the Springfield News-Leader account about his stance on drilling in ANWR:

For years, McCain has opposed drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Refuge Area (ANWR).

But during today’s town hall meeting, McCain said he’d be willing to reconsider that stance.

“I would be more than happy to examine it again,” McCain said.

Or the   Post-Dispatch account:

McCain told audience members, some of them visibly stunned, that ANWAR was too valuable and pristine to be subject to oil drilling.

Come to think of it, going to Springfield wouldn’t have clarified a thing, because I’m not sure he knows what he thinks. He made the two contradictory statements at back-to-back events. At a one hour forum, he said he’d be willing to reconsider his years-long objections to drilling in ANWR, then he went to the Missouri State University campus and insisted that ANWR was too valuable a pristine wilderness for drilling.

If he had made the statements in the opposite order, I might think he was merely doing another pandering flip flop, like his change of attitude about offshore drilling. But as it is, either he’s got a loose grip on reality or I do. Maybe it’s me, because no one else, that I’ve seen, has commented on the disparity.

What’s not in doubt, though, is his support of nuclear power to break our dependence on oil. In a video of the on-campus event, he declared that he would fight to see 45 new reactors built by 2030 and 100 new ones eventually.

Whew! What a relief. Who can argue that we’d use less oil if we had 100 new nuclear reactors? And, like McCain, I leave it to the bean counters to figure out how much nuclear waste that would create. And where to put it.

McCain acknowledged that the nation will need to grapple with how to store and reprocess nuclear waste.

I wonder if he waved a dismissive hand when he conceded the difficulties. At least he restrained himself from calling them fiddle faddle.

You know, I’ve got one of those nuclear waste sites a couple of miles from my house, over on Latty Avenue. Nobody’s quite sure what to do about it, since it’s on the Missouri River floodplain and just 8.5 miles upstream from public drinking water intake pipes.  But I don’t worry. The radiation might give me an extra glow.

Still, his support of nuclear energy is puzzling. I mean, the toxic side effects of wind and solar power are, so those bean counters tell me … None whatsoever. Oh sure, building nuclear plants would create jobs, but so would building wind and solar infrastructure.

And yet last month, McCain and his good friend, Joe Lieberman, teamed up on an amendment to the energy bill that would have taken funds from clean energy sources and allotted them instead to nuclear energy. Somebody with more patience and knowhow than I have might ought to follow that money trail.

Oh, wash my mouth out with soap for allowing such cynicism to sneak in. McCain probably prefers nuclear energy merely because, as a former fighter pilot, he likes its elan. “Nuclear”–at least if you pronounce it correctly–sounds so much more manly than “windmills”.