I know that Sen. James Inhofe is a far-right bomb-thrower. I know he’s built a career out of saying absurd things, particularly about global warming. I know nobody expects anything different from him.

Despite all that, I was astonished at his performance in today’s hearing.

It’s not that he disagrees with Gore. Plenty of legislators in both houses disagreed with Gore, thoughtfully and respectfully. What Inhofe did is flounce around and bitch and moan like a petulant adolescent. He could not have made Gore look better if he’d tried.

First, he spent the beginning of the hearing whining about the rules, and whether Gore submitted his testimony in time, and whether he was going to get his full 15 minutes, and whether if Gore’s answers were too long he’d get time added, and etc. etc.

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Then when time came to question Gore, he started by demanding yes-or-no answers to charged and misleading questions. He repeatedly cut Gore off and talked over him. At one point he demanded that Gore respond in writing! Then he said verbal responses are OK if they’re “brief.” When Boxer tried to intervene to give Gore a little time to answer, he snapped and her and whined about not getting his full time.

Then — the hacktacular coup de grace — he asked Gore to sign a pledge to reduce his personal home energy use to that of an average American. As gimmicks go, this one would embarrass a high school student, but Inhofe’s band of knuckle-draggers seems quite pleased with themselves. I’m sure there were frat boy back slaps all around.

When Gore tried to respond that he’s purchasing green energy and offsets and trying to put solar panels on his house, Inhofe just rode right over him.

Ponder for a moment: What could any of that conceivably have to do with the business of the U.S. Senate? Even if you think Gore’s wrong, is trying to catch him in a clumsy gotcha the way to advance your case? What a small, sad man.

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You think I’m kidding about any of this? Watch this video.

The man is a U.S. Senator. Boxer had to treat him the way I treat my three year old. Even his fellow Republicans on the committee were visibly embarrassed.

Obviously I’m not a good judge of these things, but it seemed pretty obvious to me that Inhofe came out of the exchange looking like an idiot — and in contrast, made Gore appear even more the statesman. By the end, Gore seemed measurably energized. Like, "I was worried about this dimwit?" He glided through the rest of the hearing.

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