Greenest Candidate? Ed Begley, Jr. Weighs In

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This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," September 5, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HEATHER NAUERT, HOST: We hear a whole lot about the environment these days. But it wasn't something that George Washington had to worry about when he ran for office. But today, in the age of global warming, SUVs and so on and so on, it is one of the biggest issues on voters' minds. So which presidential nominee will be least hazardous to the environment?

Actor Ed Begley, Jr. is here. He was one of the first celebrities to go green. He is an environmental activist. And you've been doing this for what, 20-some years now?

Video: Watch Heather Nauert's interview


NAUERT: Thirty-eight years. Holy cow. You were this before it was even hip.

You know, this is an issue that is a concern to so many voters with gas prices where they have been. But gas prices now, of course, are down. Congress dragging its feet for the past few months. It's going to take months and months for the next administration to even deal with anything else before they get to this. So how concerned are you that energy reform is now dead?

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BEGLEY: I hope it's not dead. I think we need to do it for a number of reasons. We need it to clean up the air in cities like L.A., Houston and Bakersfield, cities that have very dirty air and there are quite a few in this beautiful country. And we need it to lessen our dependence on Mid East oil. And we need it to put money in our pockets. If we do it right, if we do smart technology and do it in the right order, we pick the low- hanging fruit first, do the cheapest and easiest stuff first, we can save money and do those other two important things - less dependence on Mid East oil and cleaning up our air.

NAUERT: So what do you see as the most realistic source that we can go after right now? Of course, John McCain is talking about drilling. Sarah Palin talking about drilling in ANWR. But I guess that's not what you are all about.

BEGLEY: Conservation is the best way to get a lot of energy right away, to get more coal available, to generate power to get more natural gas available, to generate power and power vehicles, to get more crude oil and refined products available is through conservation. And there are many ways to do that. Anybody on any budget can do something. You can do the cheap and easy stuff, weather stripping, doing double-paned windows. You can do energy-saving thermostat, energy-saving light bulbs, riding a bike if weather and fitness permit, public transportation. But if you have good policy choices where the government partners with people at the state and local levels so people can afford renewable energy, people can afford some of these energy saving things on any budget. I think we can really go far and very quickly.

NAUERT: OK. You're a perfect example of somebody who does this in their own home. We have a couple of pictures that we'd like to put up right now. And the first one looks like a bunch of tinfoil right here. Come on, guys. Let's bring it up.

We have a picture of your oven, and I understand that you have a solar oven, is that correct?

BEGLEY: Yes. You can't sautee with it.

NAUERT: There it is.

BEGLEY: There's a lot of cooking you cannot do, but there's a lot that you can do. You can make soups, rice, beans. You can boil water for recipes. Whenever I have to boil water - about 300 days a year in southern California, you've got enough sun to get to 212 degrees, the boiling point of water and there's lots of things you can do with that. Solar power works. It's running my house -

NAUERT: Just quickly, how long does it take you to cook a turkey, to roast a turkey in that solar oven?

BEGLEY: I have never cooked a turkey in one of those. I have cooked some tofu turkey, but I mostly do things like rice, bean soups, stews. You can cook lots of stuff in it. It takes a little bit longer.

NAUERT: All right. It's probably not for a big, big carnivore.

Let me ask you, you've got this hybrid electric bike that you have been talking about. It looks pretty cool. But what's the point? Are you trying to get people to ditch their cars and ditch their motorcycles for this?

BEGLEY: You know, not a lot of people are in shape the way many bike riders like myself are. A lot of people need help. They want to ride in a suit to the office, perhaps or they're not used to riding long distances I and many other bikers are.

So they have these hybrid bikes like the I-Zip Bike. The I-Zip Bike is a hybrid bike. When you pedal, you suddenly are Lance Armstrong. You're suddenly Greg LeMond because as you pedal, you get a boost from electrical motor, a motor that can take you 60-some odd miles on the express - of pedaling, and it's very easy to pedal with this electric assist.

Again, I'm a purist. If you want to ride without the electric assist, you can flip it off and go under normal power which is a good way to go and get some good exercise. But a lot of people need some help. They may have a hill near their house or something, so the hybrid bikes and I-Zip bikes are a great way to go.

NAUERT: All right. That sounds very, very interesting. Ed Begley, Jr., thank you so much.

BEGLEY: Thank you.

NAUERT: Appreciate it. We won't be coming to your house for Thanksgiving with a tofu turkey.

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