Why won’t Rob McKenna do his job?

Why won’t Attorney General Rob McKenna do his job? Last I heard, McKenna was Washington state’s top lawyer, and his job, as I understood it, was to defend the citizens and laws of WA state.

And yet as Steve Zemke has revealed over on Majority Rules (here, here and here) McKenna has refused to join 10 other state Attorneys General in defending our recently passed fuel economy standards from unconstitutional federal intrusion.

WA is one of ten states to have adopted Clean Car Legislation… legislation that is now at risk of being overturned by new Bush administration fuel efficiency rules that assert that only the federal government can regulate carbon emissions. California has since filed suit, and nine other Attorneys General have signed on.

But not McKenna.

Why? Well, maybe it’s because McKenna received 28 contributions over $1,000 each (totaling over $36,000) from automobile interests? Or maybe it’s because McKenna only chooses to defend the laws he likes?

Or maybe, it’s simply because McKenna is a Republican — and a conservative one at that — who is more than willing to sacrifice the interests of the people of WA at the behest of the GOP leadership?

I’d like to know the answer. And I’m wondering when my friends in the traditional media are going to pick up the phone and ask him?


  1. 1

    Green Thumb spews:

    Isn’t it interesting that for all of Richard Pope’s wordage, his analysis failed to get to the heart of the matter? Here I’m not speaking from an ideological standpoint — just talking about the facts of the case. Lyndon gets the prize for laying out why McKenna’s silence is such a big deal.

    My bet: McKenna is pulling from Arnold’s playbook. No, not his disastrous flirtation with the right after he was elected, but rather his highly effective cultivation of business interests — especially auto dealers — leading up to the recall election. Study Arnold and you’ll have a pretty good preview of McKenna’s moves leading up to 2008.

  2. 2

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    What’s the issue here? This is a matter of Cuban sovereignty. If there is onshore or offshore oil on Cuban territory, they have every right to exploit it, and to sell the oil (or drilling rights) to whoever they want to. As long as their oil activities don’t pollute U.S. waters or interfere with navigation in international waters, it’s none of America’s business. We have no right to tell them what to do, unless and until their activities infringe on U.S. territorial rights, navigational interests, or security interests.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    Man I NEVER get tired of hearing the story about how JCH LIED about his military service! THANK YOU GBS!!!

  4. 4

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    Where ya been, Josef? Welcome back, we missed you! You’ve been gone so long I thought for sure you’d been hanged as a traitor. So — when’s your trial?

  5. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Have you gotten a date with Zits yet? Will confronting reality knock her off your pedestal? Are you better off the continue worshipping her from afar, and avoid meeting her in person, to protect the bubble of your romantic fantasy from exploding? She’s not really all that good-looking, you know. Once you peel off the pancake and makeup, there’s nothing but just another nearing-the-crest-of-the-hill thirty-something under there.

  6. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    32 (continued)

    Without doubt, she’s reached the age where she’s already getting pretty floppy in the chest area, too.

  7. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Remember folks, DARCY BURNER is the ONLY candidate in the 8th CD race who HUGS small furry animals! Before you even think about voting for the Brand X candidate, be honest with yourself, are you the kind of person who votes for a rabbit-kicker?!

  8. 8

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    “Why won’t Rob McKenna do his job?” you ask? Well, why should he? He’s a republican. They see themselves as born to rule, not govern.

    There is a difference.

  9. 9

    Richard Pope spews:

    So how about it, Richard, will you share with us your trenchant analysis of whether federal law preempts the state statute in this regard? That is, if you can get past the red tape stuff?

    Commentby Roger Rabbit— 5/8/06@ 12:23 am

    That would actually be a very complex issue, and would depend on the wording of the state and federal statutes.

    The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce. So that would be a basis for federal law to override state law. For example, a state law prohibiting vehicles getting less than 20 MPG from being driven in that state could be overruled by federal law based on the commerce clause.

    On the other hand, Washington’s law might be presented in the form of a taxation scheme. The old federal law used to have a “gas guzzler” tax to enforce CAFE (corporate average fuel economy). I don’t such a “gas guzzler” tax imposed at the state level could offend the commerce clause.

  10. 10

    Green Thumb spews:

    Richard, if I am understanding this issue correctly, McKenna COULD join the lawsuit. From a good government standpoint that would be the right thing to do. However, McKenna seems to have other priorities.

    Aligning with the auto industry can be good politics. That’s exactly what Arnold did in California. The auto dealers in particular have been one of Arnold’s biggest sources of campaign cash — and he has been generous in response.

  11. 11

    Patches [JCH]Kennedy spews:

    Few Americans paid much attention last year when Cuban President Fidel Castro announced China would help explore potentially large oil reserves off Cuba’s northwest coast – not far from the Florida Keys. But now – with gas prices climbing above $3 a gallon – the prospect of China drilling near the United States has become a hot political issue as two of the world’s largest economies vie for new sources of energy.

    I guess it’s best to allow those environmentally sensitive communist Chinese to pump the oil off our coast than the eeeeevil, greedy BIG OIL in America. s/o.

  12. 14

    GBS spews:

    How to catch a Conservative in the act of lying:

    Note the date/time stamps.


    108, Libertarian, I never attended flight school. Hence, I never “washed out”. All a figment of GBS’s vivid “imagination”. All my training was done in Newport, RI and Coronado, Ca, as well as the old Philadelphia Ship Yard. Then, three WESTPACs of 6 monthe each , one ten month IO cruise, and a tour in Coronado at the NAB. Four years at sea, and two ashore.

    Comment by Myron [JCH] Silverstein, ESQ— 2/24/06 @ 3:04 pm

    @ 123

    JCH: Are you saying GWB served in combat then? Just askin’
    Comment by windie — 1/24/06 @ 3:59 pm [No, but, Windie, have YOU ever “buckled up” in a Mach 2 F-106? Not for pussies. I washed out of Naval Air [bad GI] and served Surface Line [1110]. Flying [and training] in military jets are not for the Bill Clintons of the world.]
    Comment by JCH — 1/24/06 @ 4:37 pm

    JCH, why did you lie about your failed attempt to become a military pilot?

  13. 15

    Patches [JCH]Kennedy spews:

    To kill Iranian and Iraqi towel head terrorists I think Jesus would enjoy use nuclear tipped high, low, medium [“J” band homer] Tomahawks with “sat” controlled self correcting guidance. In addition, Jesus would enjoy a few hundred sub, ship, and air launched Tomahawks targeting simultanious military, industrial, and civilian Iranian targets, including nuclear processing facilities and government buildings. No doubt Jesus would freak at the new Seawolf subs, Trident subs, LA Class subs, and I’ll bet he would be amazed at the Tomahawk payloads of B-1s, B-2s, B-52s, and F-111s. Last but not least, God himself would love to see sea launched Tomahawks from Naval DD and CG platforms. CVNs [nuclear aircraft carriers] in “Gonzo Station” [The Arabian Gulf] would also be part of both the initial attacks [ALPHA STRIKES with F-18s [Super Hornets] and lots of hig priority secondary targeting. After the initial raids both Jesus and God would enjoy frequent USAF B-52 Linebacker II strikes to finish any missed targets. Let’s see……..Did I miss anything?? No, but the US Navy [F-18s] and USAF F-15 Eagles are still available for after strike recon, so Jesus could ride “backseat” in a Super Hornet or Eagle to get a great post strike view. Finally, the Iranian oil is now American oil. ALL OF IT!!! Nothing like 99 cent a gallon gas to pump into a 427/400 HP Vette!!!

  14. 16

    Lyndon the Roach spews:

    I got my 2006 Jane’s Catalog back from JCH the other day, but the pages were all stuck together! Next time use a rag or something!

  15. 18

    shoephone spews:

    Goldy – maybe the next time you see your buddy Joel Connelly at Drinking Liberally you can ask him directly when he’s going to take McKenna to task? Joel spends so much time and print space rehashing his love for “Maggie” and “Scoop”, and doing all he can to try and destroy Jim McDermott’s career. He might actually want to take a break from his tiresome shtick and turn his sights on exposing some real corruption, in the form of McKenna.

    Well, here’s hoping anyway.

  16. 19


    Goldy, I know you’ve been bitch-slapped on your own blog lately, but why don’t you ever opine about your fellow travelers?

    McKenna’s done a decent job on issues like Meth control and ID theft, not to mention defending the State against tribes looking for a hand-out.

    That being said, he’s done a WAY better job in confronting the issues facing our state. He might not be a “Chris Gregoire” AG, but he’s doing a damn fine job.

  17. 20

    Richard Pope spews:

    GOLDY — You are misinformed about the nature of the “lawsuit” that the nine Attorneys General have filed. The lawsuit has nothing to do with determining whether the new federal regulations will pre-empt state laws (such as Washington’s). Rather, the lawsuit is an administrative review to determine whether the new federal regulations were adopted in accordance with the relevant federal law.

    “Lockyer joined with nine other state Attorneys General, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York in filing the lawsuit in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The lawsuit alleges the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in adopting the fuel economy standards, violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). Both federal laws require the government to determine the impacts of new regulations on fuel conservation and the environment.

    The lawsuit’s allegations mirror comments the plaintiffs submitted to NHTSA during the public review period on the rules. In a November, 2005 letter, the plaintiffs stated NHTSA “failed to consider alternative approaches that would have promoted energy conservation, made meaningful contributions to increased fuel economy and encouraged technological innovation.” In addition, the letter said, NHTSA failed to consider the environmental consequences of its proposed overhaul of light truck standards, failed to consider the changes in the environment since the 1980s, when NHTSA last assessed the environmental effects of the standards, and failed to evaluate the impact of carbon dioxide (“CO2″) emissions “despite identifying the threat of CO2 and global climate change as new information concerning the environment.”

    The letter also stated that the standards, which shift the miles-per-gallon requirements from a fleet-wide basis to a new structure based on weight categories, “create incentives to build larger, less fuel-efficient models, which will jeopardize air quality and the climate.”


    Here is a link to the actual lawsuit, which is merely a request for the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “to review the final rule of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration entitled “Average Fuel Economy Standards for Light Trucks, Model
    Years 2008-2011,” and the associated compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321 et seq.”


    The issue of whether the federal law (or federal regulations) override state laws would have to be resolved in an actual lawsuit filed in a trial court (such as a U.S. District Court) between state officials and federal officials, or between other interested parties — not in a administrative rule review filed in a federal court of appeals.

    When an actual lawsuit involving the issue of whether Washington law has been pre-empted by federal laws or regulations has been filed, I will guarantee you that Attorney General Rob McKenna will assign the best lawyers on his staff to defend our state laws.

  18. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Federal preemption is always a fascinating legal issue, but I want I really want to know is does McKenna kick rabbits? Darcy Burner will make a great 8th District congresswoman because she HUGS cute furry rabbits! :D

  19. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    So how about it, Richard, will you share with us your trenchant analysis of whether federal law preempts the state statute in this regard? That is, if you can get past the red tape stuff?

  20. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I suppose that technically McKenna has discretion whether to join in this proceeding. It’s my understanding that, unless the state is being sued or a state statute is being challenged, whether to sue the federal government would be optional.

  21. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    But the most important thing to remember is that Darcy Burner is the only 8th CD candidate who hugs rabbits!

  22. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Richard, you might have done better in your various races for AG, KC prosecutor, port commissioner, etc., if you weren’t so squeamish about kissing babies and hugging rabbits! My germs are no worse than yours, you know.

  23. 26

    Richard Pope spews:

    Rabbit @ 28

    Your analysis is excellent.

    There are actually two possible interstate commerce pitfalls that states can fall into. The first is whether Congress has exercised its unquestioned authority to pre-empt matters related to interstate commerce. The second is whether the state has discriminated against interstate commerce — which is illegal, regardless of whether Congress has pre-empted the field.

    The object of the federal law and proposed regulations seems to be to require automakers to have a “Corporate Average Fuel Economy” — i.e. an average for their entire production of passenger motor vehicles.

    Presumably, the states want to do the same thing, but require higher standards. The state laws could very well be pre-empted by Congress, as well as discriminate against interstate commerce.

    It would be one thing if Washington imposed higher licensing and/or registration fees on all low MPG cars, with the same tax level for the same low MPG rating, regardless of who made the car, or what other types of cars were made by the same manufacturer. For example, if all 21 MPG cars paid $50/year, 20 MPG cars paid $100/year, 19 MPG paid $150/Year, then such a system should be perfectly legal and constitutional to encourage a target of 22 MPG or better.

    But let’s say that Ford has a lower CAFE MPG for its product line, because lots of redneck Republicans like to buy souped-up Ford supercab pick-up trucks. So tne State of Washington imposed some tax or financial penalties, either on the entire line of Ford products, or especially on Ford’s gas guzzlers. At the same time, Toyota has a higher CAFE MPG, because people like Toyota’s smaller cars better than its pick-ups, and Toyota has lots of hybrid sales. So Washington imposes no financial penalties on any of Toyota’s vehicles.

    I would say that this scheme would certainly violate federal law, if federal law expressly or impliedly pre-empts state law. It would also seem to discriminate against interstate commerce — especially if the CAFE is computed by nationwide sales, instead of just from the State of Washington. Why should Ford products be taxed more heavily in Washington, than Toyota products with the same MPG, simply because redneck Republicans in Texas strongly prefer gas guzzling souped-up Ford pickups over Toyota pickups?

    If Washington wants to do its part to save oil and reduce CO2 emissions, we should tax all gas guzzlers equally, with the amount based on how low their MPG rating is. Not only should this be constitutionally okay, this direct approach would be a lot more effective than the indirect approach of penalizing manufacturers who sell too many gas guzzlers.

  24. 28

    ArtFart spews:

    I’ve long had the impression that McKenna was just another partisan hack. This is just one more bit of evidence to that effect.

  25. 29

    Lyndon the Roach spews:

    As Goldie pointed out, Washington is one of only ten states that have Clean Car Legislation&#8230

    This history of this is that California was the only state to have preceeded the federal standards and they were allowed by the Nixon-era EPA to have a higher standard if their legislature chose. Other states could join California only if thier laws were identical to California’s. That is why there are two standards, the California standard (1/3 of the U.S. Market in 10+ states), and the Federal standard.

    My understanding of the court battle is that the original agreement with California was that that state (and any who should follow) would only regulate car emissions, not Mpg. However, since then it has become aperent that CO2–the leading contributer to the greenhouse effect in most western states–is an emission that is directly correlated to fuel consumption. The California law limits CO2 output but the only way to meet the standards is to increase gas mileage, which is still supposed to be in the solitary control of the Federal government.

    BTW, this does mean that auto makers only have to make their cars in two varieties to cover the U.S. but how many different standards are there around the world? China of all places is 20 years ahead of our emissions and mpg standards at our current rate!

  26. 30

    Lyndon the Roach spews:

    Correction: That’s CO2 emissions from cars at the top of the list of CO2 contributers to Global Climate Change.

  27. 31

    GBS spews:

    JCH @ 22 wrote:
    GBS, That’s JCH Kennedy to you, asshole.

    Nope, you’ll ALWAYS be Lt. JCH “LIAR” WASHOUT to everyone on this blog.

    Baaaa haaaa haaaa haaaa.

  28. 32

    tofubo spews:

    maybe he went to the alberto “i don’t think the consituition allows for republicans to be charged with crimes” gonzales covering up for your sugar daddy, hair & beauty, and small-engine mechanics institute of instruction and design

  29. 33

    GBS spews:

    @ 13

    After you take a “JCH” don’t forget to wipe your “YO” with some “MTR.”

    The job’s not done until you do the paperwork!!

    JCH is good at paperwork. After he washed-out of flight school

  30. 34

    GBS spews:

    19 continued;

    he was relegated to being a supply officer in the Gator Navy. Ask him about filling out requisition forms, he fucking knows them all.

  31. 35

    Josef in Marummy Country spews:

    Rob “RMK” McKenna isn’t perfect and he simply can’t be everywhere, even though he is our state’s Kennedy (whose car you’d want to get in).

  32. 36

    Patches [JCH]Kennedy spews:

    GBS, That’s JCH Kennedy to you, asshole. I’ll do as I wish, and as a Democrat sheep, you will shut the fuck up! Best regards to Mrs. GBS. Would she care to take a walk on the beach with Uncle Teddy, cousin William Kennedy Smith, and cousin Mickel?

  33. 37

    Patches [JCH]Kennedy spews:

    Y’all will excuse me while I go to the bathroom to take a JCH.

    Commentby Anonymous— 5/8/06@ 9:09 am […………………………….Goldy, Something tells me the “ex” is going to hire a legal hack named Milton Silverstein or Myron Lowenstein and take you to the Family Law Cleaners. Because you have kids, she will OWN you for the next 15 years. Enjoy!!! JCH Kennedy

  34. 38

    GBS spews:

    It’s not that Rob McKenna won’t do his job, it’s that he’s a republican which means he requres a bribe first in order to do anything. Preferably with hookers involved and a poker game with Porter Goss and the Dukester.

    Baaaa haaaa haaaa

    Republicans; the Konservative Krime Klowns.

  35. 40

    GBS spews:

    JCH, flying military jets is not for PUSSIES like you who have an extreme “gag reflex.” Puzzling though considering how much of the Konservative Krime Kool-aid you swallow courtesy of Jeff Gannon.

  36. 41

    GBS spews:

    JCH, how is it you “blow the mask” to the point of washing out of flight school, but yet you can blow Jeff Gannon all day and night without any complications?

  37. 42

    LiberalRedneck spews:

    Well, it’s clear JCH is drunk. You can tell when these racist and anti-semitic right wingers are wasted when the words “Jesus” and “(name your favorite WMD)” get all mixed up in typical random fashion.

    Notice how JCH avoids ‘splaining his obvious lies by rattling off a whole bunch of weapons systems God approves of.

    If I was an angry, frustrated, middle-aged drunk like JCH, I’d probably share some of his racist, anti-semitic Republican views, too. And I WILL thank God my life will never be that lousy!

  38. 43

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    “That would actually be a very complex issue, and would depend on the wording of the state and federal statutes.”

    No shit, Sherlock. Quoting Bill Gates, “Tell me something I don’t know!”

    Your analysis is okay as far as it goes, albeit superficial. For example, you don’t even mention whether carmakers are involved in this lawsuit.

    The automakers can make a credible argument that it’s not practical to produce 50 versions of every car model in order to comply with 50 different state fuel economy standards. They are less about whether there is a fuel standard or what it is, than it being the same everywhere.

    Under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution (and ample court precedent), Congress almost certainly has the power to supersede (the legal term is “preempt”) state fuel standards with a uniform national standard. Whether federal law actually does so depends on whether Congress intended to do so, which is for the courts to determine.

    There are many examples where federal law sets a uniform national minimum standards, but Congress did not intend that to be THE standard, and states are free to impose more stringent standards. The minimum wage is one such example; another is workplace safety regulation: In Washington, the federal OSHA regulations are superseded by the more stringent state WISHA regulations. Federal law specifically provides that states can supersede OSHA rules with state regulations that are AT LEAST as stringent as the federal rules — and the Washington legislature has elected to do so. consequently, OSHA doesn’t apply in Washington.

    As Richard astutely pointed out, there is a dichotomy between regulation and taxation. Even if federal law preempts the field of vehicle fuel economy standards, can states prohibit sale of, refuse to license, or tax vehicles that fail to comply with a more stringent state fuel standard? I would guess that, based on a Commerce Clause argument, Washington could not prohibit the owner of a Hummer licensed in Idaho from driving it in Washington. Could Washington prohibit Hummer from selling its vehicles in Washington? That’s very possible. How often have you paged through a mail-order catalog and seen a notation in a product blurb saying, “Not for sale in CA, WA, or OR”? Or, if Washington can’t prohibit sales of Hummers outright, could Washington impose a state gas guzzler tax to discourage sales of such vehicles? If not, Washington almost certainly could impose a weight tax on Hummers that would have the same result.

    Preemption issues are fascinating because they involve the interplay of federal vs. state power, federal-state cooperation (as in the OSHA-WISHA example), and whether private parties (e.g., automakers) have standing and rights or are mere bystanders in federal-state disputes over whose laws govern a situation.