Fact Checking the Sunday Shows - February 7, 2010

February 08, 2010 10:31 am ET

After a blizzard descended on the nation's capital this weekend, the Sunday political talk shows were mostly uneventful. However, the snowstorm didn't stop former Gov. Sarah Palin and Republican strategist Ed Gillespie from filling the airwaves with flurries of misinformation regarding Afghanistan, energy, and the national debt.

Fox News Sunday

CLAIM: President Obama Only "Kinda" Gave The Commanders What They Need In Afghanistan.

PALIN: We appreciate that he kinda went there fully with the commanders on the ground asking for more reinforcements in Afghanistan. Couldn't get there all the way with these guys, but kinda went there.

FACT: General Stanley McChrystal Praised Obama's Decision As "Exactly What We Need"

  • Gen. McChrystal: "I Think It is Sufficient...It's Exactly What We Need." On December 2, 2010, Gen. Stanley McChrystal praised President Obama's decision to deploy an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. In an address to commanders in Afghanistan, McChrystal said Obama's decision gave them "a new clarity of mission." Regarding the number of troops, he added, "I think it is sufficient...I think it's exactly what we need." [ABC News, 12/2/09]

CLAIM: Alaska Produces 20% Of The U.S. Domestic Energy Supply

PALIN: Two years ago, my engagement was on the state of Alaska -- the largest, most diverse state in the union, 20% of the U.S. supply of domestic energy coming from our state, while desiring to and working towards ramping up that domestic energy production.

FACT: Alaska produces under 3% of U.S. energy consumed.

  • FactCheck.org Previously Determined Palin's Claim Was False. In 2008, FactCheck.org debunked Palin's assertion that Alaska produces 20% of the U.S. energy supply:

It's simply untrue that Alaska produces anything close to 20 percent of the U.S. "energy supply," a term that is generally defined as energy consumed. That category includes power produced in the U.S. by nuclear, coal, hydroelectric dams and other means - as well as all the oil imported into the country.

Palin would have been correct to say that Alaska produces just over 14 percent of all the oil produced in the U.S., leaving out imports and leaving out other forms of power. According to the federal government's Energy Information Administration, Alaskan wells produced 263.6 million barrels of oil in 2007, or 14.3 percent of the total U.S. production of 1.8 billion barrels.

But Alaskan production accounts for only 4.8 percent of all the crude oil and petroleum products supplied to the U.S. in 2007, counting both domestic production and imports from other nations. According to EIA, the total supply was just over 5.5 billion barrels in 2007.

Furthermore, Palin said "energy," not "oil," so she was actually much further off the mark. According to EIA, Alaska actually produced 2,417.1 trillion BTUs [British Thermal Units] of energy in 2005, the last year for which full state numbers are available. That's equal to just 3.5 percent of the country's domestic energy production.

And according to EIA analyst Paul Hess, that would calculate to only "2.4 percent of the 100,368.6 trillion BTUs the U.S. consumes."

Palin didn't make clear whether she was talking about Alaska's share of all the energy produced in the U.S. or all the energy consumed here. Either way, she was wrong.

[FactCheck.org, 9/17/08]

Meet the Press

CLAIM: 9/11 Caused The Debt To Increase, Not Bush's Policies

DEE DEE MYERS, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Under George W. Bush, we saw the debt go from 5.7 trillion dollars to -- he added 4.9 trillion dollars to that debt. He nearly doubled it. He nearly in eight years did what it took from George Washington to Bill Clinton to do. So Republicans have some explaining to do.

ED GILLESPIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it's easy to explain. We had the attacks of September 11 and we had the recession that was there when President Bush came in.

FACT: Bush's Tax Cuts For The Rich Contributed Significantly To The Growing Fiscal Imbalance

Note: The national debt is the sum total of accumulated deficits.

  • Tax Cuts Were The Largest Contributor To Rising Deficits Under Bush. In May 2008, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) wrote: "Congressional Budget Office data show that the tax cuts have been the single largest contributor to the reemergence of substantial budget deficits in recent years. Legislation enacted since 2001 added about $3.0 trillion to deficits between 2001 and 2007, with nearly half of this deterioration in the budget due to the tax cuts (about a third was due to increases in security spending, and about a sixth to increases in domestic spending)." [CBPP.org, 5/9/08; emphasis added]
  • Bush Tax Cuts Still Adding To Deficits. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Just two policies dating from the Bush Administration -- tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- accounted for over $500 billion of the deficit in 2009 and $7.1 trillion in 2009 through 2019, including the associated debt-service costs." CBPP produced the following chart showing how much Bush's policies are still adding to deficits:

[CBPP.org, 12/16/09]