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All fracked up: Biden's Keystone State breakdown

What the frack was Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden offers support to union organizing efforts Senate Democrats nix 'Plan B' on minimum wage hike Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits MORE thinking? Or is this what happens when the teleprompters are off, live TV is on, and a pandering politician befuddled by it all riffs — and whiffs?

Thursday night, from Erie to Pittsburgh, Harrisburg to Minersville, Wilkes Barre to Somerset, Pennsylvania voters learned the truth about Joe Biden’s “inconvenient truth.”

He’s now okay with fracking, but clearly not okay with oil and gas. The reactions were faster than Biden’s attempts at cleaning up what he’d stepped in later that night.

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Biden’s I’m kind of for, kind of against fracking statements left progressives and environmentalists howling about his betrayal of the earth. 

Worse, Biden left the rest of the world scowling over his message of shutting down an energy industry that supports hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, generates hundreds of millions of dollars, and ensures money for the kinds of basic services that allow communities to keep schools open and the lights on.

All of this defies history as much as it did the here and now, showing that a suddenly jostled Joe either didn’t understand, or just didn’t care. Attempting to have a foot in the buckets of both pro- and anti-fracking sentiment left him in an unpopulated DMZ, between the dog and the fire hydrant.

Biden challenged President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE to produce any clips of him opposing fracking. Apparently, like he does with chilling regularity, Joe forgot what he’d already said. Before the debate ended there were multiple postings of Joe calling for an end of fracking juxtaposed with Biden’s challenge to put up or shut up. The president put up, leaving Biden to deny, deflect, then change the subject.

It’s reminiscent of Gary Hart daring the press to follow him after he was accused of infidelity. They did. Their photos of him with Donna Rice boarding a boat aptly named “Monkey Business” ended his candidacy. It took only five days for him to withdraw from the race.

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Biden’s I-was-against-it-before-I-was-for-it deceit pointed up other false statements he’s made about energy development. Biden was asked by George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosKhashoggi colleague: 'Why are we making an alliance with a dictator?' Fauci on Johnson & Johnson vaccine: 'Just be really grateful' Portman on Trump's dominance of GOP: Republican Party's policies are 'even more popular' MORE, during their recent “town hall,” about the increasing number of union families that were deserting him over his opposition to fracking. Biden countered by claiming that the Boilermakers Union had endorsed him. Only, they hadn’t.

The largest local Boilermakers Union in the country, Local 154 in Pittsburgh, has already endorsed Donald Trump. It’s the first time their union has endorsed a Republican.

Pennsylvania, the birthplace of American icons from Jimmy Stewart to Joe Frazier, Joe Montana to Kobe Bryant, can lay claim to that wonderful word: “first.” The commonwealth is where the oil and gas industry all began, in a place off America’s beaten path called Titusville.

Like a chain reaction of human discovery, it quickly led to the first refinery in Pittsburgh, and the incorporation of the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company. Today, Pennsylvania Grade Crude remains the gold standard. It’s quite simply the best oil in the world.

We know the rest of the story without having to know all of the details. A major American industry was born and flourished, providing jobs for hundreds of thousands, economic benefit for millions, and security for the entire nation.

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Over the last decade and a half, a new approach — fracking — for the first time gave America the thing we always wanted but felt we might never achieve: energy independence. No more begging for price moderation from OPEC. No more concern about how the oil fields in the Middle East could leave the rolling plains in America without power, control or hope. 

After getting through the first 45 minutes in his final toe-to-toe with the president in Nashville, Joe Biden visibly wore down as the debate progressed. 

He threw Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate Democrats nix 'Plan B' on minimum wage hike Senate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill NFL's Justin Jackson praises Sanders for opposing Biden's USDA nominee MORE and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSenate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill Exclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren Minimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster MORE under the bus for their plan to push a government-run health care system, crowing that his own public option plan would devastate private insurance. He threw Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaCPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Americans have decided to give professionals a chance Artist behind golden Trump statue at CPAC says he made it in Mexico MORE — who rescued him from relative anonymity when he chose him as his VP — under another bus when he said he would have done more and better on immigration reform (translation: open up our borders even more, and amnesty for all).

In between the times he looked at his watch measuring how much longer he had to endure talking with the American people, he threw himself under the bus, admitting he wants to “transition away” from oil and gas. That prompted the president to look over at Biden, and say what everyone was thinking: “What he [Joe] is saying is he is going to destroy the oil industry ... will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?”

Yes, they will. They already are.

There’s an old saying in politics: “If he’s on both sides, how can he be on yours?” As an old politician, Joe Biden doesn’t feel compelled to answer, because he’s just where he wants to be: everywhere and nowhere. 

Adam Goodman is a national Republican media strategist and columnist. He is a partner at Ballard Partners in Washington, D.C. He is also the first Edward R. Murrow senior fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School. Follow him on Twitter @adamgoodman3

Charlie Gerow, first vice chairman of the American Conservative Union, has held national leadership positions in several Republican presidential campaigns. A nationally recognized expert in strategic communications, he is CEO of Quantum Communications, a Pennsylvania-based media relations and issue advocacy firm. Follow him on Twitter @Charlie_Gerow.