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Kim Kardashian in West Hollywood on April 17, 2012.Chris Pizzello/The Associated Press

The brouhaha over Alberta's outlet for oil sands crude is just like – wait for it – the media frenzy over pregnant (and maybe cheated-on) TV celebrity and socialite Kim Kardashian.

That not-immediately obvious comparison was made today by North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, no slouch herself at turning a phrase or garnering a little spotlight.

Keystone XL, the controversial and long-delayed multibillion-dollar pipeline intended to funnel Alberta oil sands crude (and some North Dakotan oil) to refineries on the Gulf Coast is "the Kim Kardashian of energy," said the outspoken Democrat senator as she mused publicly about what she regards as the wholly unnecessary fuss over environmental issues and the large question of whether carbon-heavy oil sands contribute disproportionately to man-made global warning.

"I don't know why we care," said Ms. Heitkamp, the junior senator from the sparsely populated border state, who savaged President Barack Obama when he delayed deciding on Keystone XL until after he had successfully won a second term in the Oval Office.

Ms. Heitkamp cares a lot about Keystone XL. She apparently doesn't care so much for either Ms. Kardashian or long-running media coverage of Keystone XL. Sen. Heitkamp's comments, made today at a tax policy conference sponsored by the law firm BakerHostetler in Washington, DC., were first reported by The Hill.

That Ms. Kardashian, 32, a much-followed celebrity whose pregnancy has occasioned a furore of media attention, is like Keystone XL – at least in terms of being undeserving of an ongoing media frenzy – represents Ms. Heitkamp's latest dismissal of the ongoing debate over the pipeline.

Ms. Heitkamp, 57, has made clear that she and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper were fellow travellers, at least about the pipeline. Mr. Harper called the Keystone XL a "no brainer" while Ms. Heitkamp castigated the president, saying his "decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline was the wrong one, plain and simple."

In fact Mr. Obama simply delayed the decision apparently for political reasons.

Ms. Heitkamp isn't above testing the political winds either.

In the wake of the furious – and perhaps spurious – debate over gun control in the wake of the Newtown massacre of 20 children and several teachers by a 20-year-old armed with an assault rifle, Ms. Heitkamp also distanced herself from Mr. Obama. No word as to whether the contentious national debate over gun control also reminded her of frothy media celebrity coverage.

She was one of only four Democrats to heed the call of the National Rifle Association and vote against making background checks tougher. The four doomed the bill.