"I can't forgive you for setting a timetable," said Bill Baker, a former Republican congressman who lives in Danville. "It's unrealistic."
"We are seeing progress," he added. "I hope you reconsider your position. We should not have a debate about that."
Listeners surrounding Baker gave him a round of applause and cheers. Then McNerney (D., 11th District) responded.
"Thanks for your comments, Bill," McNerney said. "The war is hurting our country. We need to hold the Iraqis accountable. They need to take steps in (keeping) their responsibilities."
He did not receive the same accolades for his answer as did Baker at the San Ramon Valley Exchange Club's monthly luncheon.
Dozens of people attended the event to heard McNerney's keynote speech about energy.
He talked about using alternative sources of fuel and about global warming. He noted that the U.S. imports most of its oil from the Middle East, which causes the market to be volatile.
"We consume so much oil," he said. "It's in our national interest not to depend on oil and look for alternative sources of energy."
McNerney - an energy specialist and engineer - said wind, solar and geothermal are other sources of energy that must be seriously explored. He said our country spends $100 million a day to get oil from overseas, and there will be no more oil after approximately 100 years.
"The production and consumption of oil is at its peak," McNerney said. "We have never seen it at this point as it is right now. Oil consumption has increased exponentially."
The burning of oil creates carbon dioxide, which damages the environment, he said.
"Global warming is caused by human actions," he said, "20-25 million carbon tons are produced a day."
"The ice packs are melting," he added.
Developing other sources of fuel will help create jobs and will strengthen relationships with other countries, he also noted.
"This needs cooperation on a worldwide basis," he said. "We can create interdependence."
Although he advocated for alternative energy sources, he said he is still contemplating nuclear energy. Nuclear power has potential but he wants to know more about nuclear energy. He is concerned about its economic viability and storage of nuclear waste.
McNerney recalled asking a scientist about nuclear energy economics, and he was told he didn't do his homework. After receiving this curt answer, he said he felt like putting on blinders and not listening. He said the scientist's way of conveying information isn't the best method to reach other people.
Baker said he is in full support of nuclear energy.
"We do need nuclear," he said. "It's cheap. It's safe and clean. There are no carbon emissions."
At the end of his talk, McNerney urged that educating children in elementary and high schools on energy sources would create a healthier future.
"We need to inspire them," he said. "They are looking for a message.
"We need to tell them: 'Take advantage of what's being offered to you so you can innovate and move forward,'" he said.