When God Speaks, Tom Vilsack Listens


To tell the truth and shame the devil, newly minted presidential candidate Tom Vilsack's top issue of energy independence is a snoozer. Yes, yes, of course conservation, energy usage, and fuel supplies are superimportant, but it's a tough opener for the outgoing Iowa governor, who's expected to face Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, and other Democratic superstars in 2008. That is, until he cites God's endorsement. It's right there in his church bulletin.

In two interviews, he says energy security trumps partisanship. For proof, he pulls out a tattered copy of the October 7-8 bulletin from Des Moines's St. Catherine of Siena that lists several conservation tips. "My God," he says, "this has the opportunity to unite the country." A little homework found that even local evangelical ministers were preaching energy security. "People take this notion very seriously that God has given us this gift and we have this responsibility to extend that gift," he says.

He can thank Al Gore and Sister JoAnne Talarico, the church's office manager, for the endorsement. She tells us that after St. Catherine's showed Gore's global warming movie An Inconvenient Truth, she started putting tips in the bulletin. "It would be nice," says Sister JoAnne, "if it would become a real issue." How can Vilsack thank her? Send the church some energy-saving tips of his own. "I think I've run out of all I had," she says.