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ABC Touts Tom Friedman to Lobby for Taxes on Oil and Carbon

Good Morning America on Thursday again brought on Tom Friedman to lobby for taxes on carbon and oil. Talking to host George Stephanopoulos, the New York Times columnist urged Barack Obama to "use" the oil spill in Gulf of Mexico and push "a bill through the Senate."

Friedman discussed America getting off oil and argued, "Well, ultimately, it's going to require a price on carbon that will stimulate innovation in clean power technologies." He delicately mentioned forcing changes on businesses and taxpayers and touted that other countries "are putting in place, basically, these kind of carbon rules and taxes that give a very clear signal to business, where to invest."

Other than the occasional right-leaning point made by Bill O'Reilly, GMA's hosts don't often bring on conservative guests to promote lower taxes and less government regulation. Yet, Friedman is a favorite of the ABC program.

The columnist appeared on the September 8, 2008 GMA to make almost the exact same argument he made on Thursday. Talking to host Diane Sawyer, Friedman hyped, "But, you know, there's really no effective plan to make us energy independent without what I call a price signal, without either a carbon tax or a gasoline tax that's really going to shape the market in a different way."

Speaking of the then-presidential candidates, he enthused, "I'm looking for them to tell the truth, which is everywhere in the world, gasoline is taxed except us. You know, gasoline in Denmark is $10 a gallon."

Certainly, GMA's hosts and producers know what to expect when they have Tom Friedman on: Requests for yet more taxes on the American public.

A transcript of the May 6 segment, which aired at 7:08am EDT, follows:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: With so much going on, we wanted to bring in the men who make sense of a complicated better than just about anyone I know, Tom Friedman of the New York Times, who is also the author of Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America. Tom, thanks for coming in today. And let's pick up where Bianna and Robin just left off. There's a headline in USA Today this morning. "Greek debt crisis offers a preview of what awaits the U.S." I think people do have a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea that that small country that far away can really make a difference here.

TOM FRIEDMAN: Well, George, you know, Greece is the General Motors of countries. Basically, like GM got in trouble by giving overly generous contracts to its unions, then finally paying the price because it couldn't sell enough cars to justify them. The Greeks really did the same with their workers. You know, if you were a Greek worker, if you were a woman, you could retire as early as age 50, if you were in hazardous work. Hazardous work included being a hairdresser, handling a lot of chemicals- or 55 as a man. And, ultimately, they just couldn't pay for it. The tooth fairy went away. And now you're seeing the Greek public, basically, coming to terms with that. And it's a very ugly scene.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we're not there yet. But we're facing trends with our debts and deficits that could put us in a similar situation in a few years.

FRIEDMAN: You know, it's interesting, George. You'll appreciate this, as a former political hand. I was having a meeting this morning with one of the editors of the Economist. He said, the British election, I'm here in London, is really unique. He's never seen something like this before, that all of the parties running are actually running on pain. They're actually telling voters this time around, we're going to hit you. We're going to take something away from you. Now, they've been criticized for lying about how deep the pain is going to be. But this is a very interesting western election. All major parties are running on pain.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that could be our future. I want to turn to the oil spill. Fascinating column yesterday, where you said, "The oil spill was what the sub-prime mortgages were to the markets, both a wake-up call and an opportunity." You said it could be President Obama's most important leadership test.

FRIEDMAN: Yeah. I really think this is an opportunity. The President has really got to decide how am I going to deal with this spill? Does he really just want to end the oil spill? Of course he wants to do that. Or does he actually want to give birth to a new energy system that will end our addiction to oil. I for one am hoping and urging that he'll do the latter, that he'll use this as a way of pushing a bill through the Senate, that will begin to finally to end our addiction to oil. So, over time, you know, we're not going to find ourselves dependent on these kind of dangerous technologies, that inevitably lead to these kinds of accidents.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And to pick up on your previous point, that could involve some pain, higher oil and gas prices.

FRIEDMAN: Well, ultimately, it's going to require a price on carbon that will stimulate innovation in clean power technologies. Now, really, if you look out at the American business communities today, American business leaders understand that, really, every country in the world, Europe, Japan, China, are putting in place, basically, these kind of carbon rules and taxes that give a very clear signal to business, where to invest. We're the only major country in the world, not doing that. And I think it's a real- it's a real disadvantage. I mean, China's getting ready to clean our clock. How do you say clean your clock in Mandarin, in the next great global industry, which will be clean technology.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question, here in Times Square, that attempted bombing here Saturday night really hit home. It's raising a new question. We're now seen more of these people acting alone or with a very small group of people. No longer going for mass destruction. But mayhem, instead. Is there any way to stop this?

FRIEDMAN: George, it's really hard. You look at this guy's bio. He came to America. He went to school in America. He became an American citizen. He really symbolized, I think, the new challenge for our age. Basically during the Cold War, we were fighting another superpower, with guns, tanks, planes and missiles like ours. And we could deter them. We're in an age of globalization, where our enemies are super empowered, angry people. I mean, that's right. We've gone from fighting superpowers to super empowered, angry individuals. And that is a very different struggle. It's a very different conflict. And I don't think we've gotten our minds around yet how does a superpower fight super empowered individuals?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good question. It's a difficult one to answer. Tom Friedman, thanks very much.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.