Almost four years ago, solar energy manufacturer Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, leaving the federal government with a loan guarantee-related loss of up to $535 million.
The Energy Department's inspector general released a report on the debacle today. At the Associated Press, reporter Kevin Freking made sure readers knew that the loan guarantee program began under President George W. Bush, but somehow "forgot" to note, as the Weekly Standard did at the time, that the Energy Department under Bush made a "unanimous decision to shelve Solyndra's application two weeks before Obama took office."
Here is the pathetic paragraph as it appeared in Freking's original 11:58 a.m. report (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes):
You see, if that darned Bush administration hadn't passed the original loan guarantee program, Congress's stimulus bill would never have expanded it, Solyndra's loan guarantees would never have been made, and the government would still have its $500-plus million. So it's all Bush's fault.
I don't think so, Kevin Freking. It's a virtual lock that just-elected President Barack Obama and the green energy-obsessed Congress would have set up a similar mechanism for channeling money into renewable energy efforts. Using the mostly dormant Bush-era mechanism was a matter of convenience.
Freking missed the following salient points raised by the Weekly Standard's Mark Hemingway just days after Solyndra's bankuptcy filing as the Obama administration started playing its predictable "It's Bush's fault" tune (bolds are mine throughout this post; link is in original):
Solyndra Debacle? Blame Bush
"After spending months touting the Obama administration's decision to loan $535 million to the California solar energy upstart Solyndra, top (Obama administration) officials took a new tack Wednesday while testifying before Congress about the company's abrupt shut-down and bankruptcy: the loan, they said, was actually the Bush administration's idea. The Energy Department's top lending officer told Congress that the Solyndra loan application was not only filed during President Bush's term, but it surged towards completion before Obama took office in January 2009."
'By the time the Obama administration took office in late January 2009, the loan programs' staff had already established a goal of, and timeline for, issuing the company a conditional loan guarantee commitment in March 2009,' said Jonathan Silver, who heads the Energy loan program.
Republicans pushed back hard against this version of events, unearthing internal Energy Department emails that indicate the panel evaluating the loans had made the unanimous decision to shelve Solyndra's application two weeks before Obama took office."
If the first consideration of Solyndra came during the presidency of George W. Bush, that means that the application for the loan guarantee came after the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was passed. Clearly, this type of loan guarantee program was not a Bush Depratment of Energy (DOE) priority. The fact that Solyndra submitted a loan application does not mean the Bush White House or DOE approved the program or did more than accept the application and shuffle the paperwork a bit. And the DOE emails mentioned above appear to confirm that is all that happened.
It only became a White House priority after Obama took office.
The fact that Solyndra's application was approved in such a short time would appear to indicate that the Obama administration was more interested in pushing money out the door to "prove" that it was working on its green-energy objectives than it was in doing genuine due diligence.
The 11:58 a.m. version of Freking's report mentioned Obama once, in its second paragraph:
The company's collapse soon after getting federal backing provided ammunition to lawmakers and other critics who portrayed President Barack Obama's economic stimulus program as wasteful government spending.
Apparently that mention was too early for either Freking or his editors. It's not present in the 3:23 p.m. version of the AP reporter's writeup (also carried at the AP's "Big Story" site, but somehow, as of when this post was prepared, that item was not headlined at the "Big Story's" front page). Instead, that later version mentions only the President's last name, and just once — in the now-revised later paragraph mentioning Bush:
A federal loan guarantee program for energy projects was established in 2005 during President George W. Bush's administration. Four years later, the Democratic-led Congress passed an economic stimulus bill that substantially expanded the program. In the ensuing two years, the department disbursed more than $500 million to Solyndra, but in September 2011, the company laid off 1,100 employees, ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy protection. Obama personally visited the plant in 2010 to cite it as an example of economic progress stemming from the Democratic-led stimulus bill.
This paragraph is the only one which refers to a "President," i.e., Bush. Owing to either incredibly poor writing or a deliberate attempt to deceive, it's almost as if the AP wants readers to believe that this guy "Obama," whoever he is, visited the Solyndra plant as a goodwill gesture in support of a noble, bipartisan effort to funnel money into the company.
This is yet another reason why it's more than appropriate to refer to the AP as "The Administration's Press."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.