Redford Praises Reid, Blasts Bush's Energy Bill

Senator Harry Reid
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Actor and longtime conservationist Robert Redford criticized the Bush administration's energy legislation, calling it one of the worst bills he's seen in his lifetime.

At a news conference before attending a fund-raiser for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Redford said the bill was flawed from the start since it was designed behind closed doors by Vice President Dick Cheney and oil industry executives.

"It's one of the greatest disgraces in my time," Redford said Sunday. "It's a bad bill, it's a horrible bill.

"I think the American people are being really ill served right now and I think no where is it more disgraceful than in how the environment is being treated," he added.

Redford said the legislation places too much dependence on fossil fuels and not enough stress on alternative energy sources and conservation measures.

Republican congressional leaders have vowed to return to the measure early next year after falling two Senate votes short of sending a bill to Bush in November.

About 150 people attended Reid's $500-a-head fund-raiser at the south Reno mansion owned by John Harrah, the son of casino founder Bill Harrah. Reid, who's up for re-election next year, has raised about $5.1 million.

Redford and Reid have worked together on environmental issues and Redford wants Reid to hold his position as minority whip - the second-highest Democratic position.

Redford hailed Reid for his efforts to protect Lake Tahoe and for his opposition to a federal nuclear waste dump at Southern Nevada's Yucca Mountain. The dump is supported by the Bush administration.

"Not only is Sen. Reid a tremendous national figure, but he's great for the state of Nevada," Redford said. "I'm aware of what he's done to protect the state's interests."

Redford said Reid would continue to stand up to the Bush administration's environmental policies, including efforts to relax the Clean Air Act.

He accused the administration of misleading the public by calling its air quality legislation the Healthy Skies Initiative.

"As far as I'm concerned, when I hear the words `we're out to protect the American people' I realize not only is that not true but we're harming the American people," Redford said.

"I've never known an administration more narrow, more limited and more mean; the lack of respect and the meanness is beyond me ... I believe that now, for my lifetime, I've never known a time more threatening and more dangerous to the American people at large or the country at large" on a wide range of issues, he added.

Redford is best known for his roles in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Natural." He won an Academy Award for directing for the 1980 film "Ordinary People."