Does Mitt Romney 'look French'?

The new superPAC AmericanLP is launching the following ad in Iowa and New Hampshire this week:

The ad is brilliant in an evil genius sort of way. Romney, speaking in French in 2002, mouths some platitudes about the upcoming Salt Lake City Winter Olympics while the English subtitles consist of previously stated left-of-center-seeming positions from the Republican.

One might assume that the ad is the handiwork of one of Romney's more conservative opponents since France-bashing is a time-honored tactic to use against effete-seeming liberals. But in fact, AmericanLP founder T.J. Walker is a self-described liberal democrat who says the ad is "payback time for the Republicans and the conservatives who mocked Kerry and even produced ads mocking Kerry, showing Kerry speaking French”:

He said the goal of the ad is to influence conservatives in this cycle to turn against Romney, whom he called the “only sane, rational candidate.”  Walker also said that “The mere fact that we can show him speaking French fluently, we believe, is going to irritate primary voters."

In a follow-up video, Walker says that Fox News has declined to run the ad on the grounds that it's misleading. (For what it's worth, judging by the comments on YouTube, not everyone seems to get that the subtitles are a joke.)

The ad does seem like a bit of a cheap shot. Then again, given Romney's habit of referring to any Democratic policies he doesn't agree with as "European, " he may have been asking for it.


China blasts Canada for Kyoto move

It's not a great day for Canada when it's being lectured by China for its environmental policies:

"It is regrettable and flies in the face of the efforts of the international community for Canada to leave the Kyoto Protocol at a time when the Durban meeting, as everyone knows, made important progress by securing a second phase of commitment to the Protocol," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a news briefing.

"We also hope that Canada will face up to its due responsibilities and duties, and continue abiding by its commitments, and take a positive, constructive attitude towards participating in international cooperation to respond to climate change."

China's state news agency, Xinhua, denounced Canada's decision as "preposterous", calling it "an excuse to shirk responsibility". It urged Canada to retract its decision so it could help reduce global emissions.

China, the world's largest greenhouse emitter, won an extension of the protocol until 2017 at the conference. To be fair, since it's still designated, for the purposes of Kyoto, as a developing country, China -- as well as India, which also criticized Canada today -- doesn't face the binding, quantitative emissions cuts that countries like Canada do under the protocol.

With Canada having paved the way, can it be long before other Kyoto discontents such as Russia and Japan follow its lead?