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Kirk Loses Greens and Face Nationally

By JoshMogerman in News on Jun 12, 2010 7:00PM

Photo from Rep. Mark Kirk's website
It’s been a rough week for Mark Kirk. He lost his green group support and more military misremember-ments surfaced, elevating his national profile in a way he might not prefer. In recent elections, Kirk had been one of the few Republican candidates who could claim strong support from environmentalists. But that ended this week as the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters announced that they would not support him in the race to fill Illinois’ empty Senate seat. Oil policy and a flip-flop on his energy bill vote earlier in the year are at the heart of the groups’ decision to pull their support. Tony Massaro of the League of Conservation Voters told Lynn Sweet at the Sun-Times, "He was one of the people down on the floor of the House chanting 'Drill, Baby, Drill!' in August, 2008."

When asked about the loss of green support, a Kirk spokesperson noted his strong environmental record and the Congressman’s leadership in fighting Lake Michigan pollution from the expansion of BP’s Whiting, IN refinery. This claim seems to have particularly rankled enviros:

"Mark Kirk stood up to Big Oil when he stopped BP from polluting Lake Michigan," Kirk boasts on his website. But the environmentalists say Kirk may be exaggerating a bit when he says "he stopped" BP.

"Virtually every politician in the state said they were spear-heading the effort to keep BP from dumping in Lake Michigan," said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club of Illinois. In contrast to Sen. Dick Durbin, Mayor Daley and former Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who kept up sustained pressure against BP, "Kirk held a press conference and took a boat trip, but since that issue has faded from the headlines, we have not seen Kirk speaking out about BP's choice to move to dirtier gas at the Indiana refinery or for Illinois cars" Darin said.

It is worth noting that there is no legally binding settlement to the water pollution issues around the refinery.

"We can no longer depend on how he is going to vote," Massaro said of Kirk. And apparently the same can be said for the Congressman’s memory, as local media has been awash in stories of the ongoing issue of embellishments to the his military record, with a spate of new issues popping up through the week regarding statements about repeated deployment to Afghanistan and the claim that he was "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom."

But the focus has not just been local. The New York Times and Washington Post got into the act. Rachel Maddow mined the Chicago Sun-Times coverage of Kirk’s “misremembered it wrong” moments to skewer the candidate in a brutal nine-minute segment, noting that he was getting famous nationally as “the guy who makes stuff up.” While we doubt any Republican loses sleep over getting roughed up on MSNBC, this segment was a gleefully rough romp: