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Special Report

Is 'Cash for Clunkers' Program Helping to Fight Global Warming?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevinee:

Drop in the Bucket?

Some top environmental experts are saying the "cash for clunkers" program is an ineffective way to target climate change. An Associated Press analysis of Transportation Department figures indicates the program will have the same effect on the environment as shutting down the entire country, including cars, factories and power plants for just one hour per year.

It will save 72 million gallons of gasoline a year but the Energy Department says American drivers go through that amount of fuel every 4.5 hours. MIT professor Henry Jacoby says: "the amount of carbon you are saving per federal expenditure is very, very small."

Bruce Belzowski, a scientist at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute adds: "There's 260 million vehicles on the road and you're talking a quarter-million vehicles… It's just a drop in the bucket. It's really small numbers. But if you don't start somewhere, where are you going to start? It heads the country in the right direction."

Practice What You Preach

Members of Congress lambasted the CEOs of the big three domestic automakers last year for flying to Washington on private jets to attend hearings about the prospective federal bailout of their companies.

But Congress is apparently not against private air travel for itself. Roll Call newspaper reports lawmakers have tripled the Air Force's original request for one new Gulfstream business jet.

The House appropriations committee approved the Air Force application, then added two more jets at an additional cost of $132 million and lawmakers stipulated the planes be used to ferry members of Congress and top government officials.

The committee viewed the additional jets as an expansion of an existing program so the request was not listed as an earmark. And the legislation does not say who requested the additional funding.

Wrong Number

And President Obama thinks liberal groups targeting centrist Democrats over health care reform need to back off. The Politico newspaper reports a White House official says the president made the statement to Senate Democrats at their lunch Tuesday: "He said he didn't like to see 'left- wing groups attack fellow Democrats.'"

One of those Democrats under attack is Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson. Two progressive organizations have launched an ad against the senator which flashes a phone number urging viewers to call Nelson to complain about what they call his efforts to slowdown the push for healthcare reform legislation.

The only problem is the number listed is the district office for Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. A Landrieu spokesman, Aaron Saunders, says: "I find their attack ad on Ben Nelson to be pretty ineffective. Their whole strategy of encouraging Nebraskans to call Ben Nelson at Senator Landrieu's office is ill-conceived at best."

— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.