Now that The Wall Street Journal is reporting general news as never before, one of my small pleasures is to compare matching stories in The New York Times. The comparisons are not always exact, but they are revealing just the same.
Here, for example, are two excerpts. Both show the so-called Straight Talker for what he really is — a pandering gasbag. But one story does it better than the other. You be the judge.
Exhibit A (160 words):
Sen. John McCain is putting energy policy at the center of his presidential campaign, embracing a diverse array of positions that defies easy categorization.
He is for more oil drilling and also for alternatives to oil. He wants to drill off the coasts but not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He supports subsidies for nuclear power and clean-coal technology, but has opposed them for ethanol, solar and wind power.
He wants to lower gasoline prices by temporarily suspending the federal gas tax. But he wants to raise the price of gas with a cap-and-trade system that punishes polluting industries.
In environmentally conscious Portland, Ore., he praised wind power. In Texas oil country he supported more drilling. In rural Missouri he urged more nuclear power. In California he praised fuel-efficiency standards.
“It’s all over the map,” said Bob Ebel, a senior adviser and energy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I’m just sort of scratching my head.”
Exhibit B (162 words):
The electoral energy wars have raged from Florida — where Mr. McCain has proposed offshore oil drilling — to California and now Las Vegas. The candidates are trying to define how they would tackle the sharp spiral upward in gasoline prices and its ever more severe impact on the economy, and so far their policy proposals are poles apart.
Mr. McCain emphasizes greatly expanded drilling, offshore and on public lands. And he would revitalize the nearly moribund nuclear power industry, noting that France draws much of its energy from nuclear plants.
He suffered a bit of an embarrassment on Tuesday in Santa Barbara, Calif., as he heard his own invited panelist, Michael Feeney, executive director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara, worry aloud about offshore drilling. “It makes me nervous to think about those who are proposing to drain America’s offshore oil and gas reserves as quickly as possible in the hopes of driving down the price of gasoline,” Mr. Feeney said.