We already knew that right-wing commentator Mark Steyn of the National Review enjoys belittling children’s health problems and that right-wing bloggers attacked Graeme Frost’s family when he spoke up for children’s health insurance. But it seems that being mean to kids is becoming a kind of bizarre hobby of the right-wing media.

This weekend, 5,500 students from across the nation came to the nation’s capitol for Powershift 2007, the first national youth summit on climate change — and the solutions to it. Yesterday, upwards of 3,000 people packed into the offices of members of Congress to press them for action to stop climate change with clean energy development that’ll create 5 million new green-collar jobs. More on that in a later post.

Representative Ed Markey invited five young people to testify before the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence, one of which was 18-year-old Cheryl Charlee Lockwood, a Yup’ik Eskimo from the community of St. Michaels on the Bering Sea. (Footage available here.)

Here’s what she told the committee:

Just through my lifetime, I have seen so many changes in our community that it just hurts to not be able to have our — it’s really scary to live — lose our tradition, our culture, and we’ve been living here for thousands of years.

Rush Limbaugh played her testimony on his radio show yesterday and proceeded to mock her:

The Republicans are going to cut my school lunch money, too. I don’t know what to do, Congressman Markey. Wah, wah, wah, wah.

So, things that don’t particularly concern Rush Limbaugh: Tradition. Traditional culture. Community. Family. Homeland. Yep — he is really making some strong arguments here. He’s a parody of himself:

Nobody wants a child to cry. It’s just an attempt here to tug at people’s heartstrings. And, you know, to do whatever we can to make sure the child stops crying. And what do we gotta do? Well, we gotta stop global warming so the child’s spiritual connection to her homeland and her communities and so forth doesn’t melt away into the Arctic.

Some people might come to that conclusion, yes. But here’s the most important thing: Limbaugh said all this to accuse the Democrats of "exploiting children" to further their agenda — although Cheryl is an 18-year-old adult, not a child.

Cheryl was one of 3,000 young people who flooded Capitol Hill yesterday, none of whom were invited by the Democrats or anybody else. They drove hours in full buses and vans and slept on friends’ couches this weekend to press for their own agenda: a Congress that will act to build a clean energy economy that lifts people out of poverty and solves climate change.

Cheryl traveled from remotest Alaska to Washington, D.C., to speak up for what she believes and tell the story of what her family is going through. She came to meet with her senators, Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, and Representative Don Young. She was a citizen taking part in democracy, not a prop for political theater.

What I want to know is — what do Stevens, Murkowski, and Young have to say about Rush Limbaugh attacking one of their young constituents for taking part in the democratic process? Is this what young people from Alaska should expect when they try to make a difference and take part in democracy? Yesterday, according to the Anchorage Daily News, Senator Stevens had "no comment."

What about today?