Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is calling President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Commerce Department an “environmental extremist.”

A week after Obama announced his choice for Secretary of Commerce — John Bryson, former utility company CEO and co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council — Barrasso has taken his rhetoric to a new level of hyperbole.

After calling him an extremist, Barrasso went into particulars. He mentioned a Bryson speech from 2009 in which Bryson called the cap-and-trade bill that narrowly passed the House in 2009 a, “moderate, but acceptable bill.” Then Barrasso characterized the former utility company CEO as a sort of European socialist. “He called a bill that never made it to the Senate and will never, ever pass acceptable? If he doesn’t hurry, he’s going to miss his train to the Finland Station,” said a smirking Barrasso.

Barrasso’s rhetoric fails to match up with reality on a few levels. For one thing, it’s not like Bryson is being appointed to run the Interior Department or the Environmental Protection Agency. Commerce is about jobs and creating pro-business policies. Moreover, most hailed the Bryson appointment as an “olive branch” to the business community. After all, in addition to 18 years at the helm of Edison International, Bryson headed Bright Source Energy Inc., a solar company, and also served on the boards of the Boeing Corporation and the Walt Disney Company.

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