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I’ve been a Russ Carnahan skeptic since I moved to Saint Louis. The first few times I saw him speak, he was every bit as awkward and milquetoast as he was portrayed in Can Mr Smith Get To Washington Any More? and his early voting record was just as weak as one would have predicted from his performance in that race.

But recently I’ve shifted in my opinion. Carnahan’s voting record has been fairly good since 2006. He’s improved considerably in his public speaking, and he’s brought funding to Missouri for infrastructure improvements and energy efficiency, among other things. Which brings me to his vote for the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act last week.

Russ has caught some flak on that vote, specifically from a local bakery and St. Louis Sheriff Jim Murphy (who is a Democratic committeeman, no less.) And I don’t believe the criticism is coming from the same quarters as Greenpeace – Murphy was circulating a WSJ editorial against cap and trade, and McArthur Bakery sent the following to Carnahan:

Dear Congressman,

Many of us have had it. You are a follower not a leader. Nancy says Jump boy, you say, How high?

You do not represent the interest of your constituents on the cap and trade issue. So you now have your name in lights for 40,000 cars a week to enjoy.

You sir are not good for small business. And we are letting all of our customers and neighbors know it.

David McArthur

Obviously, Murphy and McArthur are free to say and think whatever they like. Still, Murphy claims he didn’t intend his squabble with Carnahan to become public, yet somehow the letter got circulated to where regular folks like you and I are reading about it. And I wonder if Murphy finds Wall Street Journal editorials against unions worthy of passing around, or if it’s just on topics that he appears to be uninformed about.

The facts are that even without considering gains in energy efficiency, the average household would pay only the price of a stamp a day in return for huge gains in clean energy and a reduction in carbon emissions and other pollutants. And according to a NRDC study, when you factor in energy efficiency, the average Missouri household will have in 2020 a lower average electric bill ($6.32 less per month per household) and lower transportation costs ($13.93 per month per household) than if we had done nothing but continue with the status quo of relying on coal.

So yeah, Russ deserves some praise on this one. If you live in the 3rd District, don’t forget to pat him on the back, especially because you know that followers of Rush, Newt and Glenn Beck are letting him have it right know.