The Democrats recently tried to marginalize Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna for hanging out with former Bush operative Karl Rove; Rove spoke at a mid-October Washington State Republican Party fundraiser in Bellevue and made a pitch for McKenna, who was on hand. Democrats said McKenna's affiliation with the well-known architect of Bush's 2004 election (with its attacks on gay marriage) showed that McKenna is not the moderate he claims to be.

Now, it's the GOP's turn to strike back when it comes to the company-you-keep game. Republicans are making hay out of the fact that former-VP-turned-environmental-champion Al Gore is coming to town to host an Inslee luncheon fundraiser on November 9 at the Paramount Theater in Seattle.

The GOP smear on the Gore connection? Inslee is obsessed with the environment, they say, while ignoring other issues such as education and the budget. They say Gore's decision to campaign for Inslee is fitting.

From a Republican Party press release:
This really is no surprise, as Congressman Inslee's major focus in his campaign for governor has been environmental policy, not growing Washington's overall economy to provide jobs for our unemployed. Nor has he been focusing on education reforms to provide our students with the education necessary to compete in today's job market, much less tomorrow's.

"It's as though we actually have Al Gore campaigning for governor," said WSRP Chairman Kirby Wilbur.

"Both Gore and Inslee are one trick ponies – only capable of talking about the environment and green jobs.

"Congressman Inslee has yet to talk about what he will do to get Washington working again or how he will promote policies that get our children the education they need.

In addition to saying Inslee's green focus is myopic, Wilbur also makes fun of green investments. Referring to a PI scoop in August about the minimal number of jobs that a green grant to Seattle has created, Wilbur says: "All one must do to see that the clean energy economy is a total flop so far is to look at Seattle's weatherization program."

Responding to McKenna's dismissal of Inslee's focus on the environment, Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith tells PubliCola: "Tell that to the people at Energ2 on the shores of Lake Union, who are designing ultra-capacitors to power electric cars. Tell that to the people of McKinstry in Sodo. Tell that to the people of Silicon Energy in Marysville, maker of the world's most durable solar panels. And tell that to the manufacturer of the greenest jet airplanes in the world, Boeing. Jay knows we have the potential to grow thousands of green jobs. Too bad McKenna doesn't."

Smith added, "Jay is 100 percent focused on how we create jobs in Washington and get people back to work. If McKenna doesn't see the significant job opportunities in creating a clean energy economy in Washington, that says quite a bit about his lack of vision."

In an email to supporters, Inslee's camp quoted Gore hyping Inlsee's "vision" and ability to "lead the new clean energy revolution."

And no matter what the Republicans think, the Gore event is certain to help Inslee's bottom line: Tickets start at a “silver” level of $125, cost $250 for “gold” priority seating, with $1,000 sponsorship for an intimate pre-luncheon reception.

Inslee and McKenna have both raised about $2 million—with Inslee still holding on to about $1.5 million to McKenna's $1.2 million.

And a fact check on the GOP dismissal of the city's weatherization program: While the PI story on how few jobs it had produced was hard-hitting stuff  (and drew alarm from US. Sen. Patty Murray), the story failed to put the number of jobs in the context of the program timeline and how many projects and jobs were actually queued up. And it didn't report the numbers on the residential side of the program, which included 400 homes and 13 contractors.