Led by Al Gore's investment affiliate, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, the campaign to save AB 32 raised $31 million—more than three times the $10 million that the oil companies raised for repeal. Pouring in millions were such promethean venturers as John Doerr and Vinod Khosla of Kleiner Perkins, Eric Schmidt and Sergei Brin of Google, and the legendary Gordon Moore and Andrew Grove of Intel. The campaign even managed to shake down a contribution from the state's public utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, and gained the backing of the GOP's eBay billionaire gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman.
What is wrong with California's plutocratic geniuses? They are simply out of their depth in a field they do not understand. Solar panels are not digital. They may be made of silicon but they benefit from no magic of miniaturization like the Moore's Law multiplication of transistors on microchips. There is no reasonable way to change the wavelengths of sunlight to fit in drastically smaller photo receptors. Biofuels are even less promising. Even if all Americans stopped eating (saving about 100 thermal watts per capita on average) and devoted all of our current farmland to biofuels, the output could not fill much more than 2% of our energy needs.
In the past, Kleiner Perkins funded scores of vital ventures, from Apple and Applied Materials to Amazon and Google. But now Kleiner is moving on to such government- dependent firms as Miasole, Amyris Biofuels, Segway and Upwind Solutions. Many have ingenious technology and employ thousands of brilliant engineers, but they are mostly wasted on pork catchers.
Looks like Big Green outspent Big Oil 3 to 1 to defeat Prop 23.