Though the Bible suggests that wiser men ought “suffer fools gladly,” some fools who are particularly insufferable ought not be tolerated. And they certainly ought not be elected to Congress. Yesterday, two of the bigger fools on Capitol Hill, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), faced off with former Vice President Al Gore in hearings on global climate change. Their blustering ignorance was apparently a sight to behold, as reported by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank:
Al Gore, star of an Academy Award-winning film, was in town for a double feature on Capitol Hill yesterday. But instead of giving another screening of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the former vice president found himself playing the Clarence Darrow character in “Inherit the Wind.”
“You’re not just off a little — you’re totally wrong,” Joe Barton (Tex.), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told the former vice president at a hearing on global warming yesterday morning.
“One scientist is quoted as saying, ‘This is shrill alarmism,’ ” said Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). The reviews only grew more savage when Gore crossed over to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the afternoon for a second hearing. “You’ve been so extreme in some of your expressions that you’re losing some of your own people,” announced Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the committee’s ranking Republican and the man who has called man-made global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”
Inhofe informed Gore that scientists are “radically at odds with your claims.” Displaying a photograph of icicles in Buffalo, Inhofe demanded: “How come you guys never seem to notice it when it gets cold? . . . Where is global warming when you really need it?”….
Barton informed Gore that some of his ideas “are just flawed.” Under Gore’s plan, Barton said, “we can have no new industry, no new cars and trucks on the streets, and apparently no new people.”
But this was no match for Gore. “The planet has a fever,” he lectured Barton. “If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don’t say, ‘Well, I read a science fiction novel that tells me it’s not a problem.’ If the crib’s on fire, you don’t speculate that the baby is flame-retardant. You take action.”
The audience laughed. Barton started reading the newspaper, then discovered he wasn’t getting much support even from his own side. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) admitted he paid to see “An Inconvenient Truth.” Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), implicitly rebuking flat-Earth colleagues, said: “It’s possible to be a conservative without appearing to be an idiot.” Barton flashed a grin of annoyance. [full text]
These fools and others like them who would prefer to ignore and deride the threat of global climate change and the preponderance of scientific research that makes a compelling case for such ought not be suffered gladly. Their pigheadedness is dangerous, insofar as it threatens to hamper or delay preventative action. It is one thing to be a fool when the only thing at stake is one’s reputation or standing in the community. It is quite another thing when the health and welfare of every living species on the planet is at risk.
For more on yesterday’s hearings and the antics of Inhofe and Barton, Think Progress provides commentary and coverage: