Big Green environmental lobbyists are maneuvering this week desperately looking for a way, any way, to get their second-biggest legislative goal through Congress before the November electoral tsunami radically reduces the ranks of their Democratic allies.
No, not cap and trade. It's the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) that will mandate - i.e. put the force of government behind a requirement - that progressively larger percentages of alternative energy sources like wind, solar, biomass and ethanol be used by governments and private businesses.
If it can be done before Congress recesses for the final few weeks of the campaign, well, that will be just fine and dandy with them. If that fails, they will resort to the nuclear option - trying to get it through a lame duck Congress that is the least popular in living memory.
See, this isn't about democracy and respecting the will of the majority. No, for Big Green, this is about finding a way to stuff your agenda down America's throat. It's just like forcing a recalcitrant sick child to take his medicine.
"Because I'm your mother, that's why."
Things aren't looking so good for getting RES before the election recess. According to Politico, New Mexico Democrat Tom Udall said Tuesday that "I don't think we're going to get there. I just don't hear it on the list."
His brother Mark, who represents a Colorado district in the House, said simply "there's no realistic chance of an energy proposal coming to the floor." He added that the RES issue is very much under consideration for action during the lame duck session.
But here's the real kicker in the RES issue, no matter what brilliant scheme or rhetorical camouflage its Big Green advocates come up with to advance it in Congress: Twenty percent of nothing is still nothing.
Federal bureaucrats in the Environmental Protection Agency can mandate till they're blue - or in this case, green - in the face, but, without multiple unexpected technological breakthroughs that no expert not on an environmental organization's payroll expects any time soon - none of the alternative energy sources will be capable of replacing anything beyond single-digit percentages of the nation's energy needs before 2030.
That's not according to me, it's what the U.S. Department of Energy projects.
That's why Big Green continually pushes for more federal subsidies for the alternative sources. With continued tax-paid subsidies, Big Green can claim to be developing clean energy and creating "green jobs."
Without the subsidies, odds are the alternative sources here in the United States will suffer the same fate they met in Europe.
It's the same problem former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher noted with socialism: "Eventually, you run out of other people's money."
The same Big Green movement that is lobbying furiously for RES and more subsidies is having much more success on the other side of their campaign - crippling America's ability to develop its own abundant energy resources.
Whether its putting millions of acres of federal lands in the West off limits to energy companies, blocking energy exploration and development in Alaska, mounting a junk-science scare campaign against the use of fracking in natural gas production, tossing thousands of West Virginians out of work by shutting down coal operations, or inflicting greater damage to the energy industry in the Gulf of Mexico than resulted from Hurricane Katrina, these people are determined to stop the use of all fossil fuels as soon as possible.
So what if America freezes in the dark for the next two decades while waiting for those alternative energy sources. We'll be doing exactly what mommy told us to do.
Maybe she'll ask the Democrats to add whale oil to the list of subsidized alternative sources. I mean, whale oil worked just fine ... in a 19th century economy.
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's CopyDesk blog on washingtonexaminer.com