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Glenn Beck's Crazy Lies About Van Jones

Glenn Beck spent last week smearing Van Jones with misinformation and outright lies. Here's setting the record straight.

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Beck has said repeatedly that Van is some kind of a mysterious "czar," accountable to no one but the President. A simple Internet search shows that this claim is false. A March 10, 2009, press release announced that Van was hired by the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality - to work on her staff as a "special advisor."

In other words, Van is within the normal White House chain of command, reporting to an office confirmed by the United States Senate, just like most White House staffers. Media outlets sometimes use the "czar" shorthand. But the facts show that Van has no mysterious role or extra-constitutional powers.

Beck has implied on two occasions that Van Jones and other Obama appointees were not vetted by the FBI. False. I was interviewed in my own office by an FBI agent, dutifully vetting Van. Yet another fabrication on the part of Mr. Beck.

Beck also claims that Van has somehow gained control over $500 million in Green Jobs Act funding and can hand out millions of dollars at his whim. Again, that is patently ridiculous.

No Authority to Hand out Billions

The law is clear that the Department of Labor has authority over the program, with normal rules governing the funds. Anybody who thinks that a lone government official can pass out money, arbitrarily and without oversight, knows nothing about our legal system. A blizzard of lawsuits would stop any such scheme in its tracks, if one were ever put in place.

Perhaps more importantly: final authority at the Department of Labor lies with the Secretary of Labor. Anyone who thinks that a Senate-confirmed, Cabinet-level Secretary would cede control of a $500 million program to some mid-level White House staffer knows nothing about our political system. It is ridiculous.

Promoting Business-Based Solutions

But I have to take on the worst one: Beck repeatedly and mistakenly asserts that Van is presently a communist.

Once again, this charge is easily refuted - most obviously by the pro-business, market-based ideas Van has promoted for years, including in his best-selling book, The Green Collar Economy. Van's book is a veritable song of praise to capitalism, especially the socially responsible and eco-friendly kind.

Yes, for a while, Van and his student-aged friends ran around spouting 1960s rhetoric and romanticizing revolutionary icons. But that was years ago. Way back then, I counseled him to rethink his tactics and to work for change in wiser ways.

In time, he jettisoned his youthful notions and moved on to seek more effective and attainable solutions.

Fortunately for all of us, it looks like he has found some. Over the past several years, Van has emerged as the perhaps the nation's chief proponent of using business-based solutions to create jobs and clean up the environment. In his book and his speeches, he highlights the key role of entrepreneurship in solving our nation's problems.

The 'Green' Jack Kemp?

Van believes in government clearing the way for private-sector innovation. In a YouTube clip, he said recently that progressives and conservatives should work together to find common ground and create a clean energy economy.

Van said: "We are not promoting welfare. We are promoting work. ... We are not expanding entitlements. We are expanding enterprise and investment. ... We are not trying to redistribute existing wealth. We are trying to reinvent an existing sector, so that we can create NEW wealth - by unleashing innovation and entrepreneurship. This should be common ground."

He has been preaching that gospel, in various forms, for years and years. Van Jones is the nation's "Green" Jack Kemp -- using business-based solutions to attack poverty.

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