Defending climate-denying Sen. Marco Rubio...by blaming Al Gore...
By D.R. Tucker
on 5/14/2014, 12:35pm PT
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough --- former Republican Congressman from Florida and, as of late, shameless advocate for the mendacious climate-change denying billionaire David H. Koch --- took to the airwaves this week to defend another mendacious figure, and another member of my former party: climate-denying extremist Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).
In doing so, Scarborough revealed an inconvenient truth about America's divided politics on climate...
Watch the full segment here, if you like, but the central gist of the panel discussion, and what it reveals about Republicans follows below it.
First, Scarborough began by attempting to downplay the amorality of Rubio's rejection of climate science on ABC's This Week on Sunday...
What he said was that if there is climate change, there's been climate change historically, and he doesn't think that man is impacting that climate change enough to justify legislation that he believes will kill jobs, a position that a lot of Republicans would probably agree with.
Scarborough went on to say that people on "the far left" (who?) have been "televangelists" on the issue (I thought Scarborough's party liked televangelists!). He stated that he didn't agree with Rubio's full-on rejection of mainstream climate science, insisting that one could accept the abundant evidence of human-caused climate change without believing "we need to adapt job-killing regulation" to deal with the problem.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski and panelist Jon Meacham challenged Scarborough, asking why it is that members of the GOP base need to hear such over-the-edge anti-science rhetoric. Scarborough responded:
I don't think it's [the base's rejection of] science. In fact, I know it's not [the base's rejection of] science...On this issue, I think, speaking of televangelists, I think the far left overplayed their hand. Back in '02, '03, '04, '05, Al Gore overplayed his hand. You can look at polls --- don't listen to me, look at the polling numbers from 2004, 2005, 2006 --- Americans were actually bought in to the concept of climate change and that we need to move aggressively on it. Since that time, since the overreach, since there were the climate versions of the Salem Witch Trials, where if you didn't believe in the most extreme view, that you were anti-science --- not only did Republicans wander away from this issue, but check the polling --- most Americans began wandering away from this issue. They overplayed it.
...I think a lot of Republicans might agree with Marco, reflexively, going against this sort of extremism, Willie [Geist], that I was talking about before, but I would guess, I don't know, I haven't seen polls on this, but certainly most of the Republicans I talk to really believe there is climate change, they are smart enough to believe that seven billion, eight billion people have had a huge impact on it, especially what's happening in China --- China's the number one producer of damage to the environment now --- but they're not willing to just start shutting down factories and changing the way America does things tomorrow to throw millions and millions of people out of work. I don't know. I think there's some subtlety there.
Panelist Willie Geist then weighed in:
You get the sense that yes, Republicans who disagree with this point of view do disagree, but they also resent being hit over the head with it for a decade and people saying, 'Fall in line or else.' It doesn't mean they're right, but you get that idea that this is now a sort of a reaction to that reaction from Al Gore.
Scarborough insisted that he wasn't "bashing Al Gore"-- even though he really was --- and once again called him "a televangelist for climate change." He continued:
I think there have to be those people that are out there that are pushing hard and go as hard as they can go in one direction or another, and I'm really glad he did it and he drew a lot of attention to that. I personally believed that he overreached and that a lot of people overreached.
Why are we talking about Al Gore? If it was someone more substantial, we should talk more, but it was Marco Rubio overplaying to the base. I suggest we move on...In order to defend him you have to loop all the way around to Al Gore and extremism. It was a long road to defend him there. Think about that one. It took you five minutes to explain why Marco Rubio was okay in his answering and it wasn't. It was a bad answer.
To which Scarborough responded:
Then let me do it in five seconds. A lot of us [on the right] believe the left have overreached on this issue and we're not going to throw people out of work because of their ideological rampages.
Scarborough is, in essence, admitting something that his fellow Republicans rarely, if ever, acknowledge: that the political right's rejection of climate science is based heavily on the right's fevered, foaming-at-the-mouth contempt for anything associated with the former Vice President. It is not based on a serious evaluation of the science, or concern about future generations. It can't be. The science is in and they are choosing to ignore it. It is simply about the right's longstanding wingnut grudge against the man who won the popular vote (as well as the electoral vote, had the U.S. Supreme Court allowed all of the ballots in Florida to be counted) in the 2000 Presidential election.
Of course, Scarborough never cited evidence of an alleged "overreach" by Gore or other climate activists (probably because there is no such evidence). There is, however, significant evidence that we are heading over a climate cliff --- and that Scarborough's fellow Republicans are so blind with anti-Gore rage that they cannot see themselves heading right over it.
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D.R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer and a former contributor to the conservative website Human Events Online. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe, ClimateCrocks.com, FrumForum.com, the Ripon Forum, Truth-Out.org, TheNextRight.com, and BookerRising.com. In addition, he hosted a Blog Talk Radio program, The Notes, from August 2009 to June, 2010. You can follow him on Twitter here: @DRTucker.