Sure, the extremist wing of the GOP has been saying crazy things about climate for a while.
But the anti-science wing is now in charge (Speaker of the House John Boehner: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical”). And it has been able to make climate craziness a litmus test for the presidency.
Just three years ago, the GOP nominee was a climate hawk who campaigned on a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions — and folks like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney supported climate science and climate action.
Now, even the most semi-rational contenders for the GOP nomination have to tie themselves to the anti-rational Tea Party mantra of deny, deny, and delay, delay that will ultimately sink their party and the entire nation, literally and figuratively.
Here, then, are the top five craziest things GOP contenders said on climate this year. (Note: I’m grading on a curve. So if an anti-science person says something anti-science, well, that’s not so crazy. They have to say something — or a bunch of things — really crazy to make the list.)
5. Rick Perry:
Well, I do agree that there is — the science is — is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at — at — at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just — is nonsense. I mean, it — I mean — and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.
4. Michele Bachmann:
- Human-made climate change is “manufactured science.”
- “What we need to do is pass the mother of all repeal bills, but it’s the repeal bill that will get at job-killing regulations. And I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America.”
- Solyndra “makes Watergate look like child’s play.”
- “The day that the president became president, gasoline was $1.79 a gallon. Look at what it is today. Under President Bachmann, you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again. That will happen.”
OK, technically that isn’t one crazy thing, but with Bachmann, it’s the cumulative impact that blows one away.
3. Newt Gingrich:
I’ve said publicly, sitting on the couch with Nancy Pelosi is the dumbest single thing I’ve done in the last few years. But if you notice, I’ve never favored cap-and-trade, and in fact, I actively testified against it. I was at the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee the same day Al Gore was there to testify for it, I testified against it, and through American Solutions we fought it in the Senate and played a major role in defeating it.
I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there’s a package there that’s very, very good. And frankly, it’s something I would strongly support.
2. Jon Huntsman:
In many respects, Huntsman is the sanest one of the bunch, the one who made the denial of the other contenders front-page news with this tweet:
So it was especially head-exploding when he was asked by a conservative blogger if humans contribute to global warming, and he replied:
I don’t know, I’m not a scientist, nor am I a physicist, but I would defer to science … The scientific community owes us more in terms of a better description or explanation about what might lie beneath all of this. But there’s not enough info right now to be able to formulate policies in terms of addressing it overall, primarily because it’s a global issue.
Yes, he walked that back within 24 hours, but what else could we do but call him crazy for a day?
Photo: Gage Skidmore1. Mitt Romney:
He is the second-most-rational GOP contender (remember, we’re grading on a steep curve here), and back in June said:
I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And No. 2, I believe that humans contribute to that … And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.
But in late October, after months of campaigning and countless debates with the other contenders, apparently Stockholm syndrome set in, and he said:
My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.
The man is now at 67 percent on Intrade to win the nomination, and everyone else is below 10 percent. So his crazy counts more. Congrats, Mitt, you are saying just enough crazy things to win the GOP nomination.