On the bright side, however, this is a major block to an aggressive anti-environmental bill from the Bushies. All we needed was Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Jeffords to make the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee split 9-9. And so it dies there. Of course, depending on moderate Republicans to fight these kind of bills is all we have at the moment, there is promise that standing up to these kind of things will raise the level of awareness among voters.
The fact that Kerry hardly ever talked about the environment drove me nuts. The only environmental question in all three debates came from a citizen in debate 2, so the press just ignored the issue. And now, as people read about fish so loaded with mercury that you can't eat them, pesticides causing cancer, and a myriad of other environmental disasters, maybe the Democrats will wake up and realize that a vast majority of Americans want more environmental protection, not less. Combined with the kind of populism many Democrats had to bail on to help the credit card companies that donate to them (like Joe Biden), working people everywhere might actually believe that Democrats fight for them.
For more on the missed populist opportunity, and why it was missed by some Democrats, see this post of mine at the Daily KOS. Here's a clip:
One of the other failures here is that, once they knew it would pass, the Democrats didn't even do as the woman who argued with Biden in the hearings suggested: address the outrageous fees and usury rates they supposedly have to charge to cover their losses. The Dems could have made it a clearer issue to the public by playing up the populism side of it, pointing out that consumers were giving something up, but not the CC companies. No guarantee of lower rates, like with any deregulation.