Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge may want to do a little more preparation for his next appearance on the "Colbert Report."
Ridge was Stephen Colbert’s guest last week when the two decided to discuss natural gas production on the late-night TV show. Ridge began by saying that he wasn’t a lobbyist for the natural gas industry, and then went on a long diatribe about why natural gas is the best energy source for the future of the Untied States. Colbert, never one to miss irony, immediately pounced on Ridge by praising him for doing such a good job lobbying him.
The interview got more awkward when Colbert began to bombard Ridge with fact after fact about a common, yet controversial, technique used for natural gas production called hydraulic fracturing. Fracking, as it is commonly called, is a process in which huge amounts of water are mixed with toxic chemicals and injected into the ground to extract previously untapped sources of natural gas.
Ridge defended the process by quoting Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa P. Jackson, who said no one has definitively proven that fracking has led to water contamination. Ridge neglected to point out that no one has proven that contamination isn’t happening, in part because of loopholes that keep the chemicals used in fracking a secret. Colbert did not miss this point.
“During the Bush administration, Vice President Cheney’s energy task force made sure the companies doing this didn’t have to reveal what the chemicals were that were being pumped into the ground,” began Colbert. Then, after listing the chemicals believed to be used in fracking, which included kerosene and toluene, Colbert asked, “Which of these can I feed my toddler?” Ridge laughed at that one and awkwardly offered no response.
And just when you thought the interview couldn't get more awkward, Colbert went to the video screen to show residents setting their tap water on fire, and read a warning — given to residents of a Wyoming town where fracking takes place —asking residents to place fans in their showers to help avoid spontaneous explosions. Ridge said the flaming faucet water was a natural occurrence independent of fracking, and made a few wise cracks about the fan in the shower warning. Funny stuff ... I guess. The video is posted below: