For our man in Washington it’s not easy being green |

For our man in Washington it’s not easy being green

Jamie Bate

It ain’t easy being green, especially for a self-proclaimed conservative like our man in Congress, Rep. John Doolittle.

Known for his bashing of environmentalists, the unabashed right-winger is being spotlighted for the cost of his vehicle lease – the sixth most expensive of the 136 reps whose rides are paid for by you and me.

But really, it’s not as a bad as members of the Anti-Doolittle Fan Club would like to make it.

Now if our congressman was Rep. Mike Ross (D-Arkansas), who cruises around in a Ford Expedition at $1,248.31 per month, there would be cause for righteous indignation. Not only is Ross’ ride the most costly, I’d venture a guess that it probably gets the worst gas mileage. A gasoline-powered Expedition is rated at 18 miles per gallon highway and 14 MPG in the city.

And even though Doolittle’s vehicle is the sixth most expensive leased by a representative at an un-conservative $1,073.73 per month, I’d venture another guess that its mileage numbers – 31/27 mpg – are probably some of the best. That’s because Doolittle, who nobody would ever have pegged as a progressive, drives a downright warm, fuzzy, tree-huggin’ green machine – a Toyota Highlander hybrid.


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What makes Ross’ $1,248.31-a-month, 7,000-plus-pound behemoth Expedition look even worse for Democrats is the fact that Rep. Sue Myrick, a Republican out of North Carolina, leases a Honda Accord for a thrifty – and no-doubt fuel efficient – $214 a month, which is the least expensive lease of the 136 Congressfolks.

Doolittle’s spokesman Richard Robinson did pretty good at justifying his boss’ lease and the need for a SUV. He said that most of the leases cited in the Knight-Ridder report are for two years while Doolittle’s is for 17 months, which makes it more expensive on a monthly basis.

Robinson also noted that the far-flung 4th District includes mountains, snow and that several staff members travel with the Congressman when he makes his rounds.


But instead of sponsoring silly bills about “protecting” Christmas and defending “In God We Trust” from the atheist hordes, perhaps Doolittle should really lead and put our tax money where his own car keys are – like pushing more bills like he did a year ago that let hybrids drive in HOV lanes without the minimum number of occupants. How about raising the ante and sponsor a bill mandating that all elected representatives must lease vehicles that use hybrid or other alternative fuel technologies?

That would lead the way in beginning to break our “addiction,” as President Bush called it, to fossil fuel.

But then again, maybe it really isn’t easy for a conservative Republican to be green.

– Jamie Bate is editor of the Sierra Sun newspaper in Truckee.