The Associated Press seems to have goofed up on that slightly, reporting that Palin “repeated her signature anthem, ‘drill, baby, drill.’” The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder posted her full remarks on his blog and it appears she didn’t actually use those words. Still, many commentators felt the mantra’s underlying presence strongly enough. The Boston Globe, which seems cobbled a staff report with the help of the AP wire, wrote that, “Despite Palin’s attempt to distance McCain’s energy policies from those of the Bush administration, their priorities are largely similar, especially more [oil and gas] domestic production.” The paper also noted (wisely) that, “While she promoted her advocacy of a $40 billion natural gas pipeline designed to link Alaska to the lower 48 states, questions have been raised recently about whether the bidding process was flawed and whether the pipeline will be finished.”

At Grist, the online environment magazine, Kate Sheppard pointed out that, “Despite delivering the speech from the doorstep of a solar start-up, she didn’t talk much about what she’d do for solar, wind, or any other renewable energies.” Both the pro-environment blog Earth2Tech as well as The Minnesota Daily, the University of Minnesota’s student paper, ran Palin’s speech through a “word cloud” generator (an increasingly popular, though admittedly limited, technique among some media pundits) and found that ‘oil’ and ‘coal’ did receive the lion’s share of attention.

At the Climate Progress blog, Joe Romm, who served as an assistant secretary for renewable in the Clinton-era Department of Energy, argues that Palin’s “prepared text alone leaves no room for doubt. A McCain-Palin administration will not be issuing new orders that businesses must follow to control greenhouse gas emissions. It will use a voluntary or incentive-based approach, one that has never worked in any country to restrain emissions growth.”

Many posts about Palin’s speech have been wise to note the next president’s position on legislation (a Congressionally approved cap-and-trade scheme) versus regulation (the EPA capping carbon via the Clean Air Act) is one of the most important questions out there. But Romm’s analysis is stretching it. That McCain would completely abandon cap-and-trade (for which he’s been a pioneer) is as uncertain as the idea that Obama would immediately opt for regulation. The latter rumor began to circulate two weeks ago after a Bloomberg news article quoted Obama aide Jason Grumet saying that the senator might follow that route.

All the campaign reporters I’ve talked to say that it’s been difficult to pin down the exact details of some Obama’s and McCain’s policies. They both support “clean energy” and addressing “global warming” (though the media has been careful to point out McCain has retreated form this in favor of more fossil fuels production). It’s the how that still vexes reporters and the public alike.

 

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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.