CBS: Effort to Solve California Drought Just a Political Ploy by GOP 'Endangered Species'

On Thursday's CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose described how most of California was suffering from "extreme or exceptional drought" but fretted that "the crisis is turning into a political football." [Listen to the audio]

In the report that followed, correspondent Bill Whitaker explained: "House Republicans passed a bill to divert water to California's parched Central Valley farms, water that now flows to preserve rivers and endangered fish....In a letter, Governor Brown called the Republicans' actions 'an unwelcome and divisive intrusion into California's efforts to manage this severe crisis.'"

Whitaker portrayed the GOP proposal as a desperate attempt to make political gains in the blue state: "In a state where Republican elected officials are increasingly an endangered species, GOP candidates are running on water."

A sound bite followed of political scientist John Pitney observing: "This is a partisan water war. The Republicans are siding with farmers, the Governor is siding with environmental interests."

Wrapping up the segment, Whitaker proclaimed: "There's no chance the House bill will pass the Democratically controlled Senate and there's no doubt the bitter drought will remain a bitter campaign issue."

Here is a full transcript of the February 6 report:

7:15AM ET

CHARLIE ROSE: This morning Los Angeles is getting ready for rain, but it won't be enough to help a severe drought. 75% of the state is in an extreme or exceptional drought. The House passed a bill yesterday to address the water shortage. But as Bill Whitaker reports, the crisis is turning into a political football.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Water Wars; California Drought Spawns Political Fight]

BILL WHITAKER: With California in the throes of the worst drought in modern history, Governor Jerry Brown is calling on residents to do their part.

GOV. JERRY BROWN [D-CA]: Don't flush more than you have to, don't shower longer than you need to.

WHITAKER: But in Washington, D.C., the intensifying heat of this midterm election year highlights that working together is not in Democrats' or Republicans' campaign playbooks.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [MEMBER OF CONGRESS]: The bill is passed.

WHITAKER: On Wednesday, House Republicans passed a bill to divert water to California's parched Central Valley farms, water that now flows to preserve rivers and endangered fish. On a recent visit to California, House Speaker, Republican John Boehner, called the drought's devastation a "manmade disaster."

REP. JOHN BOEHNER [R-OH]: How you can favor fish over people is something that people in my part of the world would never understand.

WHITAKER: In a letter, Governor Brown called the Republicans' actions "an unwelcome and divisive intrusion into California's efforts to manage this severe crisis." California Representative Mike Thompson was one of 189 Democrats to vote against the bill.

REP. MIKE THOMPSON [D-CA]: Even if we pumped as much water as possible, Central Valley farmers still wouldn't have enough.

WHITAKER: But in a state where Republican elected officials are increasingly an endangered species...

DOUG OSE [REPUBLICAN RUNNING FOR CONGRESS]: I propose specific solutions to increase capacity.

WHITAKER: ...GOP candidates are running on water. Political scientist John Pitney.

JOHN PITNEY: This is a partisan water war. The Republicans are siding with farmers, the Governor is siding with environmental interests.

WHITAKER: There's no chance the House bill will pass the Democratically controlled Senate and there's no doubt the bitter drought will remain a bitter campaign issue. For CBS This Morning, Bill Whitaker, Los Angeles.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.