James Inhofe’s truth squad: one man, one press conference, one quick exit

Inhofe's press conference in Copenhagen

Inhofe's press conference in Copenhagen. Photo: Jeff McMahon

COPENHAGEN–He promised to lead a truth squad to Copenhagen to tell a particular “truth”– that anthropogenic global warming is “the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state,” as he told Bloomberg, and that we needn’t worry about global warming, as he told Fox, because “God’s still up there.”

Instead, Sen. James Inhofe, the ranking Republican member of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, zipped into Copenhagen with a lone staffer, held a hastily organized press conference in the Media Center at the UN Climate Change Conference, and will soon fly home.

Why the rush? Pressing business in the Senate, his counsel, Tom Hassenboehler, told me.

Inhofe (R-Okla.) can’t prevent an accord on global warming right now because he has to get back to Washington to battle health-care reform.

And prevent is exactly what Inhofe had hoped to do. He was going to tell Copenhagen delegates they could not depend on the United States to  pass climate legislation, a message that could only erode the trust between nations here and undermine any international agreement.

Instead, Inhofe flew here to deliver that predictable message to a couple of dozen reporters.

“We’re not going to be passing a climate change bill,” Inhofe said, claiming the science has been debunked and the hoax is being perpetuated by Hollywood elites.

Hassenboehler pointed out that Sen. John Kerry also cut short his trip to get back to work on health care. But Kerry came here with a very different message.

When Inhofe stepped off his flight he entered a city, and perhaps a world, where climate skeptics are much more marginal than they are in the United States. If anyone here listened to Inhofe, it’s doubtful they would welcome his message. More than 120 world leaders have arrived to try to solve a problem. Would they really want to hear Inhofe tell them they’re all wrong?

So maybe he had to get back to work obstructing healthcare, or maybe he just thought about his message.

Or maybe he doesn’t believe himself any more.

When I asked Hassenboehler if Inhofe brought any other members of his truth squad with him, Hassenboehler answered a different question: “No, he flew commercial,” he said.

Eh?

Hassenboehler hadn’t heard my question correctly, but it was an odd moment nonetheless. Oddly green. Why, if global warming is a hoax, was Inhofe’s staffer so eager to assure me that his boss hadn’t emitted excess carbon with a chartered flight?

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