Dana Bash proved surprisingly effective in making West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin sweat this morning, when throwing charges of being owned by corporate interests in his face. The State of the Union host challenged him with fellow Democrats' criticism, beginning with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In particular, Bash wanted to know why he opposed "tax incentives and carbon capture technology to try to cut emissions in half and make the electric grid 80% clean energy by 2030."
"I'm sure you've heard your fellow Democrat, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said this about you in a tweet. 'Manchin has weekly huddles with Exxon and is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called bipartisan fossil fuel bills. It's killing people. Our people. At least 12 last night. Sick of this bipartisan corruption that masquerades as clear-eyed moderation,'" She read.
Bash emphasized, "This is your fellow Democrat. Is it true that you have weekly meetings with Exxon and other lobbyists for fossil fuel?"
Manchin went into full denial mode, saying, "Absolutely not. Absolutely not. You can ask them if they ever...I don't..."
Bash asked him to clarify, "It's just false?"
"I keep my door open for everybody. That's totally false," Manchin dismissed, before launching into his trademark bemoaning of divisions, with a side of condescending misogyny.
"Those type of superlatives that continue to divide, divide. I don't know that young lady really well, I really don't. I've met her one time, I think, between sets, here, but that's it. We have not had any conversations. She's just speculating and saying things because she wants attention," said the older white dude from West Virginia about a female colleague.
Bash doubled down, though, telling him that other Democrats echo that charge of corporate ownership.
"She's not the only one. I'm sure you've heard. There are a number of fellow Democrats say you're opposed to this because you're bought and paid for by corporate donors," she said.
"I'm opposed to it because it makes no sense at all," generalized Manchin, of the science behind creating more environmentally friendly jobs, and spending on human infrastructure that would help reduce the decades-long proven impact on the climate crisis to which he feels impervious.
Then he gives the game away with this little Freudian slip.
"I just gave you the facts. You're entitled to your own facts -- I mean your own opinions. You're just not entitled to create your own facts to support it."
Kellyanne Conway would be proud. She'd also be proud because Manchin then decides to blame natural gas instead of deregulation (and Republicans) for the disaster in Texas over the winter.
"The facts I've given you, the transition [to clean energy] is happening. Reliability. Look what happened in Texas. It was natural gas that basically shut down in Texas that caused all that horrible carnage to people. It was awful."
Yeah, it was awful. But not because natural gas is unreliable. It was awful because in Texas' pathological quest for iNdEpEnDeNcE, it refused to join the interstate electrical power grid, and allowed competitors to run amok, leaving consumers completely confused as to what their choices were on how to power their homes. But that's a story for another day.
The story for TODAY is that Manchin continues to show his voters to which party he really belongs.