“No More Solyndras” Bill Gives Republicans a Chance To Say the Word “Solyndra” A Bunch More Times

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 14 2012 8:00 AM

“No More Solyndras” Bill Gives Republicans Excuse To Say the Word "Solyndra" a Bunch More Times

Mitt Romney poses for a Solyndra photo op in May.
Mitt Romney poses for a Solyndra photo op in May.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

UPDATE, 1:32 p.m.: As expected, the House passed the No More Solyndras Act this afternoon by a 245-161 vote, mostly along party lines. Also as expected, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s tireless press team rose to the occasion, cranking out four more news releases with the word “Solyndra” in the headline in the past five hours.

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

  • Sept. 14, 9:45 a.m.: Ten Lessons of the Solyndra Failure
  • Sept. 14, 10:19 a.m.: BREAKING: Chairman Upton kicks off House debate on No More Solyndras Act
  • Sept. 14, 10:31 a.m.: ICYMI: Solyndra and Keystone pipeline present stark choice for U.S.
  • Sept. 14, 1:06 p.m.: House Stands Up for Taxpayers and Approves "No More Solyndras Act"
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ORIGINAL POST: If there’s one topic that Republicans never tire of rehashing, it’s Solyndra. The failed California solar-panel manufacturer has been a cherished talking point for critics of President Obama’s energy policy ever since it declared bankruptcy last fall, taking with it some $535 million in federal guaranteed loans. Never mind that it hasn’t really made any significant news since then. (An attempt to turn the White House’s bad bet into a corruption scandal has fizzled since a Congressional investigation has failed to uncover any bombshells.) The liberal media-watchdog site Media Matters counts 107 mentions of Solyndra during primetime newscasts by the major broadcast and cable networks just since January. Of those, 84 were on Fox News.

The latest excuse to bring up the defunct company is a GOP-sponsored bill that would prohibit any further Department of Energy loan guarantees for green energy companies. The bill is called—what else?—the No More Solyndras Act, and it’s up for a vote in the House today. It’s expected to pass, but is considered unlikely to be approved by the Senate. Still, the vote figures to be celebrated like Christmas Day by at least one person in Washington: the one who writes the official news releases for the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

When it comes to Solyndra-mentioning, Fox News has nothing on the committee’s (taxpayer-funded) press office, which has been churning out releases about the company on behalf of committee chair Fred Upton (R-Michigan) on an almost daily basis. When there is no Solyndra news to report, it drums up some new quotes about old Solyndra news, or else it reports that the Solyndra news it reported on previously still continues to be true. And when there is Solyndra news to report, it goes positively into overdrive, making liberal use of the caps lock key.

I signed up for the Energy and Commerce Committtee’s news releases earlier this year, thinking they would provide news about energy and commerce. I quickly found out they provided no such thing, but I stayed signed up because they turned out to be hilarious. An informal review of my email inbox suggests that roughly a third of all the committee’s news releases manage to work “Solyndra” into the subject line. That is a masterful showing, given that the committee often sends several releases in a single day. Here is a sampling of just a few of my favorites. I awarded points for hyperbole, caps lock proficiency, and creativity:

  • July 12, 12:06 p.m.: BREAKING SOLYNDRA VIDEO ALERT: Obama Official Tells Congress Loan Guarantee Program an "ENORMOUS SUCCESS"
  • July 13, 2:03 p.m.: ICYMI: LORD HAVE MERCY: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL CALLS SOLYNDRA AN "ENORMOUS SUCCESS"
  • Aug. 2, 3:09 p.m.: SAY WHAT??? Despite Squandering $535M, Unapologetic WH Continues to Defend Solyndra Investment as a "Merit Based Decision"
  • Aug. 21, 4:28 p.m.: ICYMI: Taxpayers Paid for That: Solyndra Artwork Would Shatter Record for World's Most Expensive Piece
  • Sept. 4, 5:15 p.m.: THIS DATE IN HISTORY: During SOLYNDRA Groundbreaking, Biden Declares "These are the jobs of the future."
  • Sept. 6, 11:19 a.m.: SOLYNDRA BANKRUPTCY - ONE YEAR LATER
  • Sept. 6, 6:17 p.m.: ICYMI: In SOLYNDRA Bankruptcy, Obama Admin's Picking of Winners and Losers Reaches Shameful New Lows
  • Sept. 8, 9:23 a.m. (a Saturday, mind you): THIS DATE IN HISTORY: 2011 - FBI Raids SOLYNDRA

"ICYMI," in case you were wondering, stands for “in case you missed it.” Don’t worry, House Energy and Commerce Committee press guy or gal: I never miss any of your gems. But feel free to keep reminding me of them anyway. In fact, I have an idea for the next time you’re facing a slow Solyndra day. How about a news release shining a light on the amount of additional taxpayer money that Solyndra has indirectly wasted by forcing you to spend all your time writing about it?

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

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