Moniz avoids hair jokes, pitches clean energy on ‘Daily Show’ 

Source: Kevin Bogardus, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, May 8, 2015

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, appearing on “The Daily Show” last night, talked Iranian nuclear negotiations and clean energy technology with host Jon Stewart.

In an extended interview posted online by Comedy Central, Moniz managed to plug several of DOE’s programs and initiatives on the popular late-night comedy show.

Stewart asked Moniz about crumbling energy infrastructure, and the Cabinet secretary mentioned a recently released, much-anticipated department report, at least among energy wonks.

“We just did a huge report on that in fact, which I recommend,” Moniz said.

“I’m telling ya, they’re going to PDF that thing. They will be all over that report,” said Stewart, referring to the audience.

“Just so you can find it, it’s called the Quadrennial Energy Review, so you will be all over it,” Moniz said.

“I think they know the name of it,” the host replied to laughs from the crowd.

The Energy secretary didn’t have to brave any jokes about his hair from Stewart. The comedian had set social media buzzing when he made Moniz and his long silver ‘do an Internet meme after the Energy secretary was spotted at President Obama’s State of the Union address in January (Greenwire, Jan. 26).

Moniz talked about progress being made in several energy sectors, from lighting to energy-efficient vehicles, including the department’s SuperTruck program, designed to make tractor-trailers more fuel efficient.

“I saw that movie, SuperTruck, by the way,” Stewart joked back to the secretary. “It was terrific. Mark Wahlberg on the run from a giant truck.”

Moniz also discussed a microgrid project in New Jersey that will upgrade electricity infrastructure after the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy there.

“In this microgrid, how will Governor Christie use it to punish his enemies?” asked Stewart to cheers from the crowd, speculating that those who don’t vote for the New Jersey governor could be zapped with electricity.

“No comment,” said Moniz, laughing.

Moniz talked about his role in international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. The former Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics and engineering professor has emerged as a key figure in those talks due to his technical know-how in all things energy.

Moniz said he was satisfied with the deal worked out with the Iranians, which is expected to be finalized later this June, and at times had to defend it from Stewart’s jabs.

“In your mind, Iran will stay to the letter of the deal, make it verifiable, and if they don’t, then we will probably be really mad,” said Stewart, earning some laughs from the audience.

The Energy secretary stressed the agreement was based on what the United States could verify Iran was doing with its nuclear materials, not blind trust.

“We retain all of our options with the deal,” Moniz said. “Obviously, we hope that they will observe it, but, again, this is not built upon trust. It’s built upon some pretty hard-nosed set of processes, observations, verification, access, transparency. And that’s the nature of the deal.”

“And you trust them?” Stewart asked.

“We will verify,” Moniz said.

“And they trust you?” Stewart countered.

“We will verify,” Moniz repeated.

Overall, Moniz seemed to enjoy himself, laughing throughout his “Daily Show” appearance. He also won Stewart over, at least on the merits of the department’s QER.

“I can’t wait to get my hands on the Quadrennial Energy Report. Then I’m going to call you and we’ll talk about it,” Stewart said to Moniz.