McCain falsely claims he has ‘never favored’ capping global warming pollution

Outside of DC, global warming has been a bipartisan issue, where some of the real leaders are Republican.  Even in DC, a leading proponent of strong action is one of the most conservative Senators [see Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “The idea of not pricing carbon, in my view, means you’re not serious about energy independence…. You’ll never have energy independence until you clean up the air, and you’ll never clean up the air until you price carbon“].

mccainconfusedBut as anti-science ideologues have demagogued climate action and climate science, they have made a litmus test out of the issue, so more and more previous GOP supporters have reversed positions when they seek national office or are in a tough primary.  The saddest case Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the original conservative climate champion.  Think Progress has the latest details on McCain’s staggering flip-flop:

Last week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “” who is facing a primary challenge from former right-wing GOP congressman J.D. Hayworth “” played along with Fox News host Sean Hannity’s uninformed idea that the recent snow storms in the mid-Atlantic region disprove that the earth’s climate is changing. “I think they made some movie that showed that the earth was going to freeze over as a result of global warming. I never quite understood that,” McCain said.

Yesterday, a local Arizona conservative talk radio host told McCain that “80 percent” of global warming science “is based on fraud and misinformation.” Despite having previously refuted such nonsense publicly, McCain again remained silent. Pandering to the far right, the Arizona senator later said he “never” supported capping carbon emissions:

Q: If we knew then what we know today about these scientists and this fraud, would you still be in favor of capping carbon emissions at 2000 levels?

MCCAIN: I’ve never favored it at a certain level. I’ve favored reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the good of “” I mean we all know that greenhouse gases are bad! But I’ve said, in order to achieve that we have to have nuclear power as a component of it.

Listen here:

In fact, McCain has actually co-sponsored cap-and-trade legislation. “We need a successor to Kyoto, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner,” McCain wrote in a 2008 op-ed. And during the his 2008 presidential campaign, he delivered a major speech on his plan to address climate change. “A cap-and-trade policy will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy,” he said in the speech. And he specifically outlined his plan to cap carbon “at a certain level”:

McCAIN: We will cap emissions according to specific goals, measuring progress by reference to past carbon emissions. By the year 2012, we will seek a return to 2005 levels of emission”¦by 2020, a return to 1990 levels”¦and so on until we have achieved at least a reduction of sixty percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

This isn’t the first time McCain has tried to run to the right on this issue to fit his political objectives. During the 2008 campaign, he tried to claim that by supporting cap-and-trade, he wasn’t endorsing any “mandatory cap.” But of course, a “cap” is in fact a “mandatory” limit. The New York Times noted last week that McCain “is likely to keep his distance” from his previous support of cap-and-trade and addressing global warming, an issue he “once led” on, because of Hayworth’s primary challenge.

Ironically, during yesterday’s radio interview, McCain also said, “[The liberal media has] been accusing me of changing positions and all that. The fact is I haven’t changed them. I’ve always fought hard for the things that I believe in.”

Update McCain spokesperson Brooke Buchanan has responded saying that he “was referring to 2000” rather than the general concept of capping carbon. But the Washington Post notes that McCain had also proposed capping greenhouse gases at the 2000 level. As for McCain’s silence on the host’s global warming denial? “Those weren’t his words, those were the talk show host’s words,” Buchanan said. “He’s not going to get in an argument with a local talk show host about what he said.”
Related Post:

22 Responses to McCain falsely claims he has ‘never favored’ capping global warming pollution

  1. Leif says:

    “He’s not going to get in an argument with a local talk show host about what he said.”…

    What a good thing to know next time I have something to say about McCain.

    Well I have something to say, and I am not even a talk show host.

    If you are reading Senator: “Never go to sea in a boat you would not be proud to have as your coffin”.

    Sometime your actions make me think you are the “Manchurian Candidate” incarnated. Dedicated to the downfall of the Nation thru economic collapse and climatic disruption. Some time you are not so bad.

  2. MarkB says:

    “I’ve never favored it at a certain level.”

    While McCain is a confirmed flip flopper, this statement seems sufficiently ambiguous enough to not be definitely wrong. What “certain level”? Any certain level…or a specific one? His previously sponsored legislation I don’t think went as far as existing legislation over the 40-year timeframe, or an 80% reduction. Moreover, while sloppy, the rest of McCain’s response was reasonable and consistent with previous statements.

    “I’ve favored reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the good of — I mean we all know that greenhouse gases are bad! But I’ve said, in order to achieve that we have to have nuclear power as a component of it.”

    McCain is in a fight for his primary nomination, and will inevitably pander to the far right who have hijacked his party. Hopefully, he will come to his senses when that’s over, win or lose.

    [JR: You are a kind soul. I think it’s hard to parse Mccain’s statement as not being false.]

  3. This is a great time to mention a nice video that explains the issue so well… This is “The Story of Cap and Trade”

    Well explained, I thought.

  4. Ben Lieberman says:

    There’s another issues besides honesty: stand by convictions

  5. Gumbo says:

    Even McCain knows when it’s time to jump ship! The truth lives at Climate Depot: Hooray for Marc Morano!!!!!!!!!!

    * A Climategate Over Climategate? Climategate Investigators Are Global Warming Buddies!

    * WSJ’s Taranto: ‘Consensus or Con? The global warmists are the real deniers’

    * Grist Mag.: ‘Is the Copenhagen Accord already dead? – ‘In private, [countries] are urinating all over it’

    * What does average Temperature mean part 2

    * Kansas City Star: Many meteorologists dismiss global warming as ‘the greatest scam in history’

    * Orange County Register: Your Guide to Keeping Track of the Climate Scandals

    * African crops yield another catastrophe for IPCC: IPCC’s 2007 report is disintegrating under closer examination’

    * They Knew UN Was Conning Us in 2005! Hansen Colleague at NASA rejected UN IPCC Summary in 2005 as having ‘no scientific merit’ — ‘Sounds like something put together by Greenpeace activists’

    * ‘We’ve been had!’ Indian Magazine Rips Global Warming: ‘The Hottest Hoax in the World…A pack of lies, it turns out’

  6. Gumbo says:

    According to Rutgers University Global Snow Lab, last week’s Northern Hemisphere winter snow extent was the second highest on record, at 52,166,840 km2. This was only topped by the second week in February, 1978 at 53,647,305 km2. Rutgers has kept records continuously for the last 2,227 weeks, so being #2 is quite an accomplishment.

  7. K.A. Mandia says:

    I’m still reeling over the conservative radio talk show host’s claim that “80% of global warming science is based on fraud and misinformation.” Um, from what reputable source has he pulled that little statistical gem? Actual research and fact shows quite the contrary, if one allows reason and scientific method to penetrate his or her brain. The majority (approx. 95%) of reputable climatologists (with peer reviewed research to support their claims) and world-renowned scientific organizations concur that humans are the cause of global warming. Even Senator-Flip-Flop-Because-I’m-Purely-Concerned-With-Securing-My-Reelection-So-I’ll-Pander-to-the-Far-Right-Himself HAS to admit that greenhouse gases are bad. You can’t deny the science simply because you don’t like the solutions.

  8. #6 is my wife and she is the GREATEST! :)

  9. And once again we are treated to grand announcements by people too willfully ignorant to even try to grasp the distinction between temperature and precipitation, “justified” by a string of “quotes” devoid of even the pretense of citation.

    How tediously unsurprising.

  10. sailrick says:


    One week of record snow fall is called weather, not climate. Just because Sean Hannity thinks it means something doesn’t make it so.
    Maybe you didn’t know that warmer air holds more moisture and can lead to more snow. Washington DC has had typical temps all winter. Nothing unusual, it’s called winter. No one said global warming eliminates winter. If scientists say global average temps have increased by about 1.4 deg F, do you think that is something you would sense in your day to day life? No but it’s enough to change when spring starts, screw up the feeding breeding and migration of lots of animals and melt the arctic sea ice and 90% or more of the worlds glaciers. Just because we still have winter is not a good gauge of whether the earth is warming. Get it?

    Your proof is a bunch of mass media tripe that is to be expected given the massively funded disinformation campaign, of which you are both the product and the proof. You have been had. You have been spoon fed the koolaid. If you want to know who has fooled you, read the book “Climate Cover-Up” by James Hoggan. There is a scam, but not the bizarre conspiracy theories that you believe. On much more sinister and much better funded than those poor scientists could ever afford.

  11. Michael T says:


    Even with the NH snow extent, it still tied as second warmest January (tied with Jan.’02) on record according to NASA GISS.

    It was even the warmest January in the UAH and RSS satellite records.

    All this despite the snow and cold snap. Which the cold snap and snow is mainly due to a strong negative AO phase and moderate-strong El Nino. However the extreme precipitation events are likely attributed to El Nino, they’re still consistent with global warming.

  12. mike roddy says:

    Politicians are really getting sickening these days. Reminds me of when the Dixiecrats used to try to “outseg” their opponents.

    What’s next? McCain throws a bone to the Birthers and FEMA concentration camp crowd?

  13. From Peru says:

    What a SHAME…even the intelligent beings inside the Republican Party are now infected with Anti-Science Syndrome…

    Anti-Science Syndrome(ASS), a very infectious disease that turn people into Idiot far-righters.
    Far-Rightism (Fascism) also was a pandemic in Europe in the 1930s…

    “There are two Infinite things, the Universe and Human Stupidity, and I am not sure of the First One” – Albert Einstein

    “The Peoples that forget History are doomed to repeat it” – (help me with the author of this quote)

  14. Craig says:

    Poor John. Whether he wins or loses the primary, this is a shameful way to wind down his political career. After he lost the presidential election, I thought he would be key to shepherding a climate/energy bill through the Senate. Had he done so, his legacy would have been assured. Historians would chronicle him as a key player in passing, against enormous odds, the most critical piece of legislation in history.

    What will be his legacy now? Thirty years from now, will people say he deserved the title of “Maverick”?

  15. prokaryote says:

    In the future
    We will have laws for unscientific skeptic people and media, which treats them like terrorist.
    We will start to build an arche.
    Most humans will die.
    The human species is at risc. Very grim outlook.

  16. toby says:

    I like that … Gumbo comes on to triumphantly spew the latest garbage from Climate Depot, then trips up & exposes himself as an ignoramus on climate! I am sure Hannity and the other heroes will go the same way … their own arrogance/ ignorance dooms them.

    If we never knew that McCain would have made a terrible President, we know it now.

  17. I usually try to avoid the politics but I have a hypothesis regarding John McCain. For many years he has been the face of moderate Republicans. My wife and I actually supported him in his run in 2000. During the last campaign, he obviously tacked to the right quite a bit and I could not have possibly voted for him. Then he allows his handlers to put Sarah Palin on the ticket. At that point, I would almost rather have jumped off a bridge than vote for him.

    Hypothesis: John McCain is so appalled that Sarah Palin may win in 2012 or she may tack the entire party to her right side that McCain is trying to shore up the moderate/slightly right Republican vote by playing along and being a good Republican so that he is positioned to again be a party favorite in 2012?

    See why I avoid politics? I am not very good at it. :)

    BTW, I love Obama and I never voted for Gore. Not that that should matter…

  18. Sam says:

    Let them be stupid, I mean – the consensus among most of my scientific colleagues that actually study this stuff (and don’t just talk about it on the media) is that runaway global warming has already been set into motion, right?

    If we can’t change their behavior we can just document all the junk they spout for posterity, so that these climate-killers (McCain included, along with the entire GOP and basically 2/3 of the USA) will earn the disdain of all future generations!

    History will show that humans weren’t up to challenge, at least not in time. Too easy to willingly ignore something displeasing at the expense of keeping up current behavior patterns. This is our legacy.

  19. John McCormick says:

    RE # 14

    Craig, you asked: What will be his legacy now?

    Sarah Palin.

    She will be the grave marker over his political career.

    John McCormick

  20. #13, From Peru:

    Most likely the quote you are thinking of is by George Santayana, from Volume 1 of The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense:

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

    Marx says something similar, if a bit snarkier, though I’m not sure of the source:

    History does everything twice, the first time as tragedy the second time as farce.

  21. Mal Adapted says:

    All you folks jumping on Gumbo apparently missed comment #8. It’s a hint: Gumbo is a Poe.

  22. Steve O says:

    Yes, and #8 is pandering, too!