Several members of the United States Senate have a serious credibility problem when it comes to climate change. Chief among them is Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), whose career highlight was saying on the Senate floor that global warming is the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."
Mr. Inhofe's most recent assault on the debate over domestic climate legislation was his insistence on repeating a misleading analysis of the costs of climate legislation, despite all evidence to the contrary. Incredibly, when I asked Senator Inhofe's staff to respond to the fact that his statements on climate legislation were clearly factually inaccurate, they responded with the single-most convoluted statement I've ever seen. Ian Malcomb of Jurassic Park had some choice words for this 1700+ word rant as well. This is what we're up against folks, and it is neither logical, credible nor reality-based. I would engage in a point-counterpoint back and forth with Mr. Inhofe's staff -- as I recently did with Senator Murkowski's staff on the same issue -- but it would clearly be fruitless. Rather than respond to Mr. Dempsey's largely irrelevant arguments, I'll simply refer you to this FactCheck.org refutation of the crux of his argument. Flail away, Mr. Dempsey, but reality is on our side.
Now, obstructing domestic legislation is one thing, but taking the anti-science freakshow on the road is something else entirely. Sadly, this is apparently what Senator Inhofe intends to do.
Mr. Inhofe -- who is widely considered the least credible member of the United States Senate -- recently announced a plan to take his anti-science antics to dizzying new heights. Senator Inhofe intends to lead a truth squad of climate change deniers to the international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen this December with the specific intention of embarrassing the United States and undermining President Obama.
Predictably, Senator Inhofe broke the news to the arch-conservative National Review:
"Now, I want to make sure that those attending the Copenhagen conference know what is really happening in the United States Senate. Some people, like Senator Barbara Boxer, will tell the conference, with Waxman-Markey having passed in the House, that they can anticipate that some kind of bill will pass EPW." Such statements, Inhofe says, deserve a bold response. "Look," he says, "there is no bill that is bad enough to not pass out of our committee. There may be enough votes to get a bill out of EPW, but there is far from enough support in the Senate. The Democrats don't have the votes. There are too many newly-elected Democrats in the Senate who don't want to go home and tell voters that they just voted for the largest tax increase in American history."
This is not the first time Senator Inhofe has embarrassed the United States at an international climate discussion. As The American Prospect reported years ago, Inhofe pulled a similar stunt in Milan in 2003 and was met with mockery:
Inhofe's Milan appearance triggered considerable controversy, as well as some fun at the senator's expense. The National Environmental Trust (NET) whipped up posters showing Inhofe's picture and his famous quotation, displaying them for the delegates present. "The reaction in the halls was -- well, they just believed it was lampoonable," notes one Democratic Senate staffer.
Mr Inhofe's embarrassing and irresponsible behavior on the international level raises important questions. Eric Kleefeld at TPM DC phrases it well:
It's nice to see how seriously foreign policy is taken these days -- when a member of the political minority will send his own delegation to an international conference, in order to undermine the government and tell other countries that they can't work with the United States.
I can't help but recall Speaker Pelosi's March 2007 trip to Syria and the chorus of insults from media outlets and conservative politicians that accompanied it. I'm sure all of those who took Speaker Pelosi to task for undermining President Bush on the international stage will be setting their sites on Senator Inhofe in the days to come.
This piece was originally published at Current Green as part of the 360 Degrees of Copenhagen series. Current Green will be keeping you up to date on all the latest developments and will provide a 360 degree point of view of the conference via guest bloggers over the course of the next few months.