Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM PST
Environment and Public Works Committee after eight years putting up with its Democratic leadership. Not to mention the eye-rolling directed your way every time global warming made it onto the agenda. I'll bet you're all fired up to be in charge again.
Congratulations. You got the power.
Now, how about showing the nation you got a brain?
Look, I know it's a great, long-running gig you've got going. Being on the spigot end of the fossil fuel money pipeline certainly makes it easier to pay the freight for getting re-elected. And all you had to do to keep it flowing was reject the deeply considered conclusions of just about every scientist in the world whose skills matter a damn when it comes to understanding the behavior of the planet's climate.
I'm not saying you didn't once believe the shillery you are engaging in. After all, when you first came to the Senate two decades ago, scientists had only been saying much to the general public about global warming for five years. The loudest voices on the subject were, then as now, those lovingly funded by the coal, oil and gas corporadoes and tended by PR image shapers and meme inventors. You know these guys, the ones who make money fabricating unforgettable and politically damaging catch-phrases like "war on coal."
You got bamboozled. Just like a whole bunch of other Americans got bamboozled. Buried in an avalanche of propaganda that made it conventional wisdom to believe the bamboozlers were telling the truth when they said Arctic ice wasn't melting faster or atmospheric greenhouse gases weren't soaring out of the range of anything since several hundred millennia before the first Homo sapiens took a step on the savanna.
The bamboozlers used sophisticated techniques and primitive ones. All united around raising doubt to generate opposition to any kind of climate-related policy choices that might affect the bottom line of the bamboozler funders. The money poured out the door into campaign funds and the wallets of credentialed prevaricators and scientific outliers. The media cooperated by giving this cabal equal time with the people who actually knew what they were talking about. Their scheme worked.
None of them, of course, has gone so far as you. I mean, wow! An entire book that from the title onward claims a huge conspiracy invented global warming. That it is all a giant hoax. Not the first time you've made that claim, of course. You even went Godwin in an interview eight years ago during an Oklahoma heat wave when you said of scientists speaking out on global warming:
It kind of reminds ... I could use the Third Reich, the big lie. You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that's their strategy.
Sorry, I don't believe you still believe it. If you ever truly did. Because you've had plenty of time to read and interview and follow the ever-grimmer assessments of the International Panel on Climate Change. You know what's really going on. You know this is no put-up job. Oh sure, I realize your The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future was only just published in 2012.
I know how eager you must be to get back to leading hearings to trash greenhouse gas emissions regulations by the EPA, the agency you once compared to the Gestapo.
I'm sure you enjoy rubbing elbows and comparing stock tips with your pals in the oil biz.
And you probably get a kick out of the adoring letters you receive from people who gobble up every bit of baloney you offer them about climate change.
But—gimme a wink here, Senator—you know that human-caused global warming is for real. You know its consequences are going to be devastating and that that word won't half describe the ongoing results unless a broad range of actions are taken and quickly. You know this because if you didn't know it after all your experience, you'd have to be stupid. And we all know that you can't be stupid and get to be a United States senator. Right?
So, do us a favor, okay? All of us. Your wife and 20 kids and grandkids. Your fellow Oklahomans. The nation. The whole planet. Come January, when you gavel that first EPW committee into session, 'fess up. Come clean. Tell everyone you had a revelation. Say that you did some reading and thinking over the holidays—and some praying—and that, consequently, you now accept the scientific consensus on global warming. Tell the nation you plan to use your whole remaining time in the Senate advocating ambitious programs to limit greenhouse gas emissions and build green infrastructure.
And then do it.
I know that you don't believe in bipartisanship except as a means to prank Democrats who keep letting themselves get played on that hoax. I realize you're eager to continue doing what Rush Limbaugh urged you and the rest of the GOP to do in January 2009: Block everything the Obama administration tries to do to make it fail. I get it. But you need to bite the bullet now and tell everyone you're going to make an exception for global warming. After all your previous obstructionism, you should now epitomize cooperation and far-sightedness. Maybe show up to applaud your committee colleagues Barbara Boxer and Sheldon Whitehouse when they deliver their frequent climate change speeches on the floor of the Senate.
Perhaps you can even get a piece of legislation with your name on it to spur rooftop solar, electrify a portion of the nation's rail lines or ban coal exports.
This change of direction certainly will shock most of your constituents and campaign contributors. But don't worry. If you decide to run again when you're 85, you will find plenty of financial support that isn't dependent on the fossil fools. Let the Koch Bros. bring it on! A match made in heaven. Your legacy will be heroic. Generations of your offspring will praise your name.
Before you say "no way, I have a reputation to keep up," please recognize that taking this step doesn't mean you have to give up the nuttiness comprising the rest of your politics. Not at all. I'm not suggesting a personality transplant. But come January, please, just sit down, lean into the microphone and tell everyone you've seen the light. Play it right and your epiphany will get more attention than Jesus' did.
You're 80 now, Senator. How about demonstrating some of the wisdom that is supposed to come with all those years?