Lindsey Graham’s hissy fit over the climate bill appears to have calmed down.

By day’s end, supporters said its prospects were brightening slightly, with the Republican coauthor of the legislation, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, again discussing it with Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

Graham had backed away Saturday after months of negotiations because of a dispute with Senate Democratic leaders over the timing of votes on climate and immigration legislation. His move prompted Kerry and Lieberman to postpone the rollout of the climate bill, which had been scheduled for Monday.

After talking with Graham on Sunday morning, Kerry and Lieberman prepared to move ahead without him if necessary. But a Senate aide said they were increasingly optimistic that Graham would return. His presence adds the crucial imprimatur of bipartisanship to the bill, which is likely to stall without it.

So crucial that it can be removed if the Republican doesn’t like the priority order!

Let’s just remember that this bill, if it ever comes to light, will apparently be endorsed by oil companies and the Edison Electric Institute, and opposed by the environmental groups willing to speak up about it. Clean Air Watch’s Frank O’Donnell called the process “Let’s Make A Deal”, with goodies to business groups flying around. You even have the WHITE HOUSE worried about the giveaways:

Graham said he worried his colleagues were being “overly optimistic” in describing business support for the measure, and he lashed out at the decision by anonymous administration officials to tell Fox News earlier this month that they opposed the idea of a fee on the transport sector linked to the price of carbon, which quickly became labeled a gas tax. “I should have walked when I saw that story,” he said.

An administration official, who asked not to be identified, said the White House and Graham simply had a difference of opinion on the issue, in part because the administration did not see winning the support of oil companies “as the holy grail” of climate and energy legislation.

I don’t see any reason to move a flawed, actively harmful bill when the EPA carbon regulation process could potentially achieve better goals. Especially when support is tied to one man’s vanity.

David Dayen

David Dayen