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CROWLEY: Now he was talking about going after a couple of oil and gas companies and, you know, you crucify the first couple of ones and everybody else learns a lesson, is essentially what he was saying.
Do you have a problem with the way the EPA goes about its business? Is that, do you think, reflective of the EPA?
SCHWEITZER: Well, the energy companies need certainly more than anything. The last thing we need is to have some kind of a capricious system of who we're going to enforce regulation with and who we're not going to. So as long as we have certainty, we can function within those rules. We've got more drilling rigs right now in the United States than all of the rest of the world combined.
CROWLEY: So you don't think is -- this reflects reality?
SCHWEITZER: I think that was some silly talk.
CROWLEY: Governor, do you have problems with the EPA?
MCDONNELL: Absolutely. In fact, some people in Virginia call it the Employment Prevention Agency because some of the overarching regulations and policies, particularly in a coal and gas state like Virginia, same with Montana, there -- it's just been overboard and the number of permits we seen in the last couple of years has been down dramatically.
And it's putting -- what this does is drives up the cost of the electricity. That's the impact on the American people. So this kind of rhetoric is very harmful because it really is translating into policy that we've seen in our states, and I'm sure Brian's seen it in Montana.
CROWLEY: Can I talk a little bit about gas prices because that's out there, at least in the political groundwater. Is it hurting folks in your state in a way that it's going to hurt the economy? SCHWEITZER: Well, gas prices aren't quite as high as they were in 2008, but they're too high. And that's why --
CROWLEY: What is about average in Montana, do you know? SCHWEITZER: About $3.81, $3.84, something like that.
CROWLEY: Sounds pretty good from around here. But it's beginning go into the family budget obviously.
SCHWEITZER: Absolutely. And of course, you know, we're producing more oil in the United States than any time in the last 12 years. We're importing less oil today than we have in 16 years. We're down to 45 percent.
We have oil and gas, we have coal and we have a wonderful natural supply of natural gas and that's why energy prices in the United States are cheaper than almost any place else in the world. $2 natural gas is the cheapest natural gas. Our electricity is some of the cheapest in the world, and that's why manufacturing is going back to the United States.
CROWLEY: But politically isn't it hurting the president at this point or do you see signs of that?
SCHWEITZER: Absolutely. If gasoline prices are high, it comes straight out of the pockets of consumers, and we'd like to have gas prices lower.
MCDONNELL: Everybody knows we need more energy independence in America. It's been a discussion since 9/11 and why we're in the Mideast (sic) and some of those things. I think this is a seminal issue in this election.
The president talks about all of the above. But I can tell you, in a coal and gas producing state, and in a nuclear state, where we've had -- actually going backwards on nuclear with the removal of the permitting at Yucca Mountain, new regulations on coal and natural gas, we're trying to drill off the coast for oil and natural gas in Virginia.
The president won't allow us to do that. No real help on the XL Pipeline. So we're going in the wrong direction. I think that's why Mitt Romney's got some very good ideas about how we get energy independence going in America.
CROWLEY: Let me pick up on the Keystone pipeline, because I know it 's something you support, the president may support it in the future, has supported parts of it. But there's, you know, the fact of the matter is this is a pipeline that would move energy or oil and gas for oil from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico. And the president so far has put the brakes on its completion.
SCHWEITZER: Well, let me add to that. Actually it would also move Montana oil. I negotiated with TransCanada when we gave them a permit that they would build 100 million-dollar on-ramps so that Montana oil --
(CROSSTALK) CROWLEY: (Inaudible) the president, right, for stopping this?
SCHWEITZER: Well, actually pipelines are permitted state by state. Montana, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, we've all permitted it. But in Nebraska, they said, no, not so fast. So TransCanada doesn't even have a route yet.
You can't have an application approved -- Bob knows that, because he approves pipelines in his own state -- until you have a route. As soon as Nebraska allows a right of route across Nebraska, TransCanada can make a completed application and then the president and the State Department need to act.
CROWLEY: And but -- so you're not upset. You think this is not politics at play here? That --
SCHWEITZER: Well, yes, of course, Congress is yakking about it, but, frankly, the State Department only has a role because it crosses an international border, Montana and Alberta. If there's no international border, it's only states. As soon as Nebraska acts, then TransCanada can get a full application before the State Department and then they need to act.
CROWLEY: Governor, let me move you all on to some issues key in your state. You have a voter ID law that is either near or sitting on your desk. You had criticized it in its current form, saying that you really worried it would disenfranchise some people who otherwise would have votes that counted. Are you going to sign that or not?
MCDONNELL: I'm still working through it. I mean, we're entitled to one man, one vote. Not two votes, but not no votes, and I'm trying to make sure that the bill I got back strikes that proper balance with some of the things (inaudible) --
CROWLEY: You know what's in it, though, and you have been opposed -- you didn't -- you wanted to soften it a bit, make it slightly easier.
MCDONNELL: I wanted to make it easier to have a signature comparison --
MCDONNELL: -- as opposed to making a voter come back. So I'm meeting with our state board of elections, with the attorney general, to find out whether or not this -- whether or not we can make --
CROWLEY: Democrats say it would disenfranchise their voters.
MCDONNELL: I don't think it -- I don't think it would. It would create an additional burden to have to come back and be able to show subsequent identity. We've had a number of cases of voter fraud. Most of them in the registration stage, and we want to make sure we have good clean elections. That's a fundamental of democracy. CROWLEY: Sure. Leaning one way or the other? You know what's in this.
MCDONNELL: I'll let you know in a couple of week. I'm still looking at it.
CROWLEY: OK. Come back in a couple of weeks.
I want to read you something, Governor Schweitzer, that you said -- this is from October 2006. Nothing goes away, as you know.
If he -- meaning Mitt Romney -- gets the nomination I might support him.
Well, it's 2012, six years later, he's on his way to getting the nomination. Would you support Governor Romney?
SCHWEITZER: No, I'm not supporting him. He's a friend of mine and we traveled together in Iraq and Afghanistan and when you're in a war zone and you travel with somebody, you learn a lot about their family, a lot about their business, a lot about their values. But, of course, I think the whole Republican party has taken a right turn.
This is far right of where Reagan was, and so I'm not supporting him. I think he's a good man and I think he has some good ideas but I'm supporting Barack Obama.
MCDONNELL: It's his last year in office. He could have done it. He could have made news here.
CROWLEY: He could absolutely. Absolutely, especially since you liked him.
MCDONNELL: I'm supporting Mitt Romney because he's the best guy for America right now.
CROWLEY: I want to ask you -- I want to play you something that -- you both were there, I think, last night at the White House correspondents' dinner, as was i. And something Jimmy Kimmel had to say. There's always truth in humor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: Mr. President do you remember when the country rallied around you in hopes of a better tomorrow? That was hilarious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So a little truth in that. Is the president -- did -- were expectations and hopes so high that he's now suffering from that in the polls?
SCHWEITZER: We're actually coming back from the brink. We've had 25 consecutive months of positive job creation not in the public sector but in the private sector. So we're on the mend.
And the good news -- and we need to get this out as leaders. We need to tell the world that very have the most innovative work force, we have the least expensive energy and manufacturing is actually starting to come back to the United States for the first time in 20 years. That's a good sign.
CROWLEY: Governor, I can't go without asking you. Of course, your name comes up in the whole VP list thing and you're going to be out of a job at the end of this year anyway.
MCDONNELL: Two years.
CROWLEY: Two years, sorry.
MCDONNELL: He's out. I'm still there.
CROWLEY: That's right. You know, you signed a bill that required a noninvasive ultrasound for anyone that would get an abortion. Do you think that hurts you on that VP list?
MCDONNELL: Look, that's completely up to Mitt Romney. I'm not worried about that.
What I'm worried about, though, is the future of the country. You know, 8.2 percent unemployment right now for 38 consecutive months, a crushing $15.5 trillion national debt, I want to do everything I can to make sure we preserve the American dream for my kids, his grandkids and the rest of America. That's really what's at stake.
And I think this hope and change message we saw two years ago, it's now recession and division. I think this is going to be a tough campaign, but I think people want the positive things about America. We are -- Brian's right. Some of the most entrepreneurial people in the history of the world. We've just got do better to bring out their best and Mitt Romney is the guy to do it.
CROWLEY: Governor McDonnell, Governor Schweitzer, no agreement here, but great discussion. Thanks so much.
MCDONNELL: Thanks, Candy. Good to be back. Brian.
SCHWEITZER: Good to be with you, Bob.
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