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Updates: Giannoulias Pulls All Negative Ads for Final Week of Campaign

Wow — refreshing!

With six days remaining in the race, Congressman Kirk has pulled his one positive television ad and has gone completely negative, with more than $2 million in false, misleading attack ads.

In stark contrast, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias has gone completely positive for the final week with an ad that features President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, his mother and workers from Hartmarx, with each of them noting his compassion and character.

“Just as Alexi has gone with a purely positive television ad in the final week of the campaign, we learned today that Congressman Kirk pulled his positive commercial and is spending more than $2 million on false, negative ads that have been denounced as smears by independent fact check organizations,” said campaign spokesman Scott Burnham. “Instead of focusing on the issues, Congressman Kirk has a record he can’t defend. That’s why Congressman Kirk, the Republican party, Karl Rove and the Chamber of Commerce are spending nearly $5 million on negative and misleading attack ads this week.”

Learn more about Alexi Giannoulias.

Updates: Kirk

Alexi Giannoulias released a white paper last week detailing his position on key energy policy and environmental issues. In the midst of the Deepwater Horizon spill the Giannoulias paper focuses heavily on drilling, offering reforms designed to prevent future spills and ensure that BP is held accountable for the disaster in the Gulf.

Giannoulias supports enhanced safety features for offshore oil rigs, a six month moratorium on new offshore drilling permits, and a plan to split the now-infamous Minerals Management Service into two separate agencies to prevent the conflicts of interest which led – to say the least – to some shoddy regulation.

Giannoulias’ proposed drilling reforms are largely uncontroversial, and Mark Kirk pretty much agrees. On the surface, one might even tempted to think that Kirk deserves his billing as the greenest Republican in Congress. Dig a little deeper, though, and Kirk’s environmental credentials start to fall apart.

Kirk jumped on the “drill baby drill” bandwagon in 2008, prompting the Sierra Club to withdraw their endorsement for his Senate campaign. The greenest Republican in Congress has offered some rather bizarre justifications for his pro-drilling enthusiasm. In 2008 Kirk falsely claimed that the Chinese were drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and in early June he argued that U.S. imports of Iranian oil totaled 80 billion barrels despite the existence of well-known sanctions which make all such imports illegal. Factor in the inscrutability of the 80 billion barrel figure – the U.S. only imports about four billion barrels of oil a year – and it appears the Congressman has confused his energy policy with a game of energy independence Mad Libs. (China! Iran! Literally gazillions of barrels!) Kirk’s record of standing up to Big Oil is similarly suspect; Kirk paid lip service to stopping BP from dumping in Lake Michigan in 2007 but failed to follow through.

On cap and trade, Kirk has jumped the ship entirely. Kirk supported a market-based cap on carbon emissions in the House, but as a Senate candidate he claims the legislation is no longer in the interest of his constituents. While it’s possible that Kirk genuinely believes global warming to be a Kenilworth-specific issue, it seems more likely that he no longer finds it in his political interests to play moderate Republican, which is rather convenient now that his position on the issue actually matters. There is at least some recent evidence which suggests this is the case; in 2008 Kirk broke a long-standing trend by voting against tax credits for renewable energy. Given that such tax credits appear to constitute the entirety of Kirk’s plan to fight global warming, it is unclear what the Congressman intends to do about this issue.

The Giannoulias white paper prominently states the Democrat’s support for “a comprehensive, market-based system that puts a price on global warming pollution,” and Giannoulias has been consistent in his advocacy for cap and trade. It is important to note that even if Kirk is serious about government subsidies for renewable energy, it is unlikely that such measures will put a dent in climate change absent a cap on carbon emissions. One common misconception about cap and trade is that it is designed to eliminate global warming entirely; in fact the legislation is only designed to limit warming to two degrees Celsius by 2050. Most scientists agree this is the threshold at which climate change will become catastrophic, and tax credits alone will almost certainly be insufficient to keep us below the magic number. Putting a price on carbon is critical both in terms of limiting U.S. emissions and spurring international action on climate change.

We’ve heard enough myths in this Senate campaign, so let’s put this one to rest: Mark Kirk is not moderate on the environment. He loves drilling, opposes cap and trade, and voted against alternative energy legislation. Alexi Giannoulias has a better energy plan, and it’s not even close.