Van Jones, the Oakland activist and environmentalist who became President Obama's green jobs advisor, has got a new problem - and this one looks kind of serious. Conservative bloggers have unearthed a 2004 petition that Jones signed, demanding an official investigation into the US government's alleged complicity in the September 11 terrorist attacks. The White House immediately put out a statement from Jones, denying that he's a 9-11 Truther, and implying that he hadn't read the petition before signing it.
Jones had already been attacked relentlessly by right-wingers in recent weeks for a 2005 comment he made to the Express in which he said he considered himself a "communist" for a time immediately after the Rodney King verdicts. And then earlier this week, the right-wing media jumped on a public statement that Jones made last year, before joining Obama, in which he called Republicans "assholes." Jones, who also called himself an "asshole" in the same statement, apologized for the name calling. While the asshole statement and his off-hand comment to the Express a few years ago could be easily laughed off, signing on with the 9-11 conspiracy theorists is a whole different deal.
Moreover, the controversies surrounding Jones appear to be not going away, and they're coming at a crucial time when Obama's approval ratings are falling and he's facing his biggest political fight of his career over health care. For now, it looks as if the White House intends to keep Jones -- and he deserves the benefit of the doubt because of his outstanding career. But if there are any more embarrassing moments from Jones' past, it could prove tough for the president.