By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Lobbyists say Republicans have been receptive to the Pickens Plan, and Pickens himself says he's trying hard to persuade them his idea is the way to go.
"I'd say that three or four months ago they were pretty cold to me," Pickens says, "and now they're more willing to come along. The further I go, the more I think [Republicans] realize that the plan has real merit."
The next step, Pickens says, is working to get additional legislative help for the natural gas side of his plan.
"I think it's going to show up in the energy bill pretty quick," Pickens says one morning, several hours after his routine 6:30 a.m. workout. "There's no question we've got the wind started and we've got the energy grid going, and there's no question we're on our way to the last piece of the plan."
Back in January, Pickens says, he thought he had a winning hand, but wondered if he'd play it well enough to make it pay off. "I probably lacked some confidence then that I have now," he says.
Critics accuse Pickens of being a hypocrite, morphing from a free-market capitalist into a panhandling socialist when it fits his financial needs. To that, Pickens says, "the free market is fine, but waiting on the free market can sometimes be disastrous."
Instead, Pickens chooses to wait on Congress. Only time will tell if the veteran hedge fund manager has made the right bet.
"I feel great," Pickens says, "but until all the horses are in the barn, I'm not going to be tipping my hat or taking credit for anything."