JAMES INHOFE, HEATING UP…. Dana Milbank noted this morning, “It must be very lonely being the last flat-earther.” He was referring, of course, to the tragically confused senior senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe (R).
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a key hearing yesterday on global warming, and even conservative Republicans on the panel “made it clear that they no longer share, if they ever did, Inhofe’s view that man-made global warming is the ‘greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.’”
“Eleven academies in industrialized countries say that climate change is real; humans have caused most of the recent warming,” admitted Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). “If fire chiefs of the same reputation told me my house was about to burn down, I’d buy some fire insurance.”
An oil-state senator, David Vitter (R-La), said that he, too, wants to “get us beyond high-carbon fuels” and “focus on conservation, nuclear, natural gas and new technologies like electric cars.” And an industrial-state senator, George Voinovich (R-Ohio), acknowledged that climate change “is a serious and complex issue that deserves our full attention.”
Then there was poor Inhofe. “The science is more definitive than ever? You keep saying that because you want to believe it so much,” he said bitterly. He offered to furnish a list of scientists who once believed in climate change but “who are solidly on the other side right now.” The science, he said, “already has shifted” against global-warming theory. “Science is not settled! Everyone knows it’s not settled!”
Inhofe called for more oil drilling. His aides tried to debunk the other senators’ points by passing around papers titled “Rapid Response.” Mid-hearing, Inhofe’s former spokesman, now in the private sector, sent out an e-mail — “Prominent Russian Scientist: ‘We should fear a deep temperature drop — not catastrophic global warming.’ “
Inhofe later insisted that “we went out of that natural warming cycle about nine years ago” — a claim that’s patently ridiculous.
As for Inhofe’s “list of scientists,” let’s not forget that many of them aren’t scientists, and many more are convinced Inhofe’s wrong. (Some of the actual scientists included on the senator’s list demanded that their names be removed — and he ignored their requests.)
Every time I see Inhofe ranting about this, I picture him on the Senate floor, after legislation has already passed, sounding like some tragic Don Ameche, shouting to no one in particular: “Now, you listen to me! I want the voting reopened right now. Get those members back in here! Turn those machines back on!”