Dawn of the brain-dead Senate

GOP fills candidate slate with climate zombies who deny science

securedownload[1]A comprehensive Wonk Room survey of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate finds that nearly all dispute the scientific consensus that the United States must act to fight global warming pollution. In May, 2010, the National Academies of Science reported to Congress that “the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change” because global warming is “caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for “” and in many cases is already affecting “” a broad range of human and natural systems.”

This finding is shared by scientific bodies around the world. However, in the alternate reality of the fossil-fueled right wing, climate science is confused or a conspiracy, and policies to limit pollution would destroy the economy.

Remarkably, of the dozens of Republicans vying for the 37 Senate seats in the 2010 election, none supports climate action. Even former climate advocates Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) now toe the science-doubting party line.

Many of the Senate candidates are signatories of the Koch Industries’ Americans For Prosperity No Climate Tax pledge and the FreedomWorks Contract From America. The second plank of the Contract From America is to “Reject Cap & Trade: Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.”

In reality, a carbon cap-and-trade market “” by rewarding work instead of pollution “” would increase jobs, lower electricity bills, restore American competitiveness, and forestall a climate catastrophe.


ALABAMA – Richard Shelby
ALASKA – Joe Miller
ARIZONA – John McCain
ARKANSAS – John Boozman
CALIFORNIA – Carly Fiorina
DELAWARE – Mike Castle and Christine O’Donnell
FLORIDA – Marco Rubio
GEORGIA – Jonny Isakson
HAWAII – Cam Cavasso
IDAHO – Mike Crapo
ILLINOIS – Mark Kirk
INDIANA – Dan Coats
IOWA – Chuck Grassley
KANSAS – Jerry Moran
KENTUCKY – Rand Paul
LOUISIANA – David Vitter
MARYLAND – Eric Wargotz, Jim Rutledge, John Kimble, et al.
MISSOURI – Roy Blunt
NEVADA – Sharron Angle
NEW HAMPSHIRE – Jim Bender, Gerard Beloin, Bill Binnie, Kelly Ayotte, Dennis Lamare and Ovide Lamontagne
NEW YORK #1 – Joe DioGuardi, Bruce Blakeman, and David Malpass
NEW YORK #2 – Gary Berntsen and Jay Townsend
NORTH DAKOTA – John Hoeven
OHIO – Rob Portman
OKLAHOMA – Tom Coburn
OREGON – Jim Huffman
UTAH – Mike Lee
VERMONT – Len Britton
WISCONSIN – Ron Johnson

Overwhelmingly, the Republican candidates not only oppose action to limit global warming pollution, they question the validity of climate science. Here are a few quotes drawn from the Wonk Room report:

Gov. John Boozman, Arkansas:

“Well I think that we’ve got perhaps climate change going on. The question is what’s causing it. Is man causing it, or, you know, is this a cycle that happens throughout the years, throughout the ages. And you can look back some of the previous times when there was no industrialization, you had these different ages, ice ages, and things warming and things. That’s the question.” [KTHV Little Rock, 3/10]

Rep. Roy Blunt, Missouri:

“There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth.” [Human Events, 4/29/09]

Rep. Rob Portman, Ohio:

“When you analyze all the data, there is a warming trend according to science,” he said. “But the jury is out on the degree of how much is manmade.” [Columbus Dispatch, 7/25/10]

Jim Huffman, Oregon:

He casts doubt on scientists’ findings about global warming. It’s “rooted in some fairly vague science,” he says. “There are a lot of studies out there that offer alternative explanations for global climate variations.” Huffman opposes a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, largely because it will be too expensive. He argues that it’s more realistic to adapt to climate change than disrupt peoples’ lives trying to prevent it. If some island nations become uninhabitable, he says, “I think that’s a tragedy, but we can adapt to that.”[Portland Tribune, 9/2/10]

To recap: 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming, but 97% of GOP Senate candidates disagree.

See the comprehensive listing of all 37 races at the Wonk Room.

Brad Johnson

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33 Responses to Dawn of the brain-dead Senate

  1. _Flin_ says:

    Well, that doesn’t look as dire as you make it look.
    Many statements sound more like classic cowardly political opportunism than convinced denial. I think there is still some hope.

    On the other hand one could say that hope is the only thing that is left when looking at these statements.

  2. Colorado Bob says:

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  3. Abe says:

    The problem with the classic cowardly political opportunism is that it tends to go along with classic cowardly political voting. It doesn’t matter what they believe if they vote like they don’t.

    Also, it’s like the West Wing analogy on gun control – if you decide that because your constituency doesn’t agree with you, you should just shut up about what you believe, then you’re like the politician who sees his people running by, and says “there go my people! I must find out where they’re headed so I can lead them”

    Rhetoric like this strengthens people’s denial of reality.

  4. mike roddy says:

    Republican candidates are quoted as saying I “believe” or I “think” that climate change, if it exists, is not manmade. In reality, of course, there is no actual belief or thought occurring here.

    What is really going on is that the candidates “believe” that if they don’t parrot what the RNC and the oil companies are telling them, their campaign funding will be withdrawn. That means no more golf junkets, Georgetown parties, and lifetime income from lobbying firms that service oil and coal companies.

    This is quite horrifying, really. There was a time when a man’s conscience was operative even among Republicans, in struggles over Vietnam war funding and civil rights. Now, if any politician says he’s going to vote on Americans’ future based on actual scientific evidence, he’s considered a sucker. This is nihilism taken to another level. If Americans don’t recover our souls, the future for all of us is going to become very scary.

  5. george ennis says:

    I am saying my Hail Marys because that is about the only thing that is going to stop the idiocy that is becoimng the new norm in GOP discourse, from becoming actual policy.

    They truly do occupy an alternate universe and reality where the laws of physics etc as we know them do not seem to apply.

  6. marcato says:

    Largely because of this website and a few other resources, I became motivated last month to write my NC elected officials to support legislation to combat climate change. I actually got a reply from Richard Burr!–well from his office, at least. (The only reply so far.) From his letter, dated Sept. 1:

    “Thank you for contacting me about climate change. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.
    “Global climate change has been at the forefront of environmental debate for many years now, and I am committed to working to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I support a market-based, technology-driven solution to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions…”


    “In June, I introduced… the Next Generation Energy Security Act (S. 3535)… While I cannot support a “cap and trade” regime, I do believe my proposal provides an excellent starting point for bipartisan progress in substantively reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

    The entire letter is one page front and back.

    This may be just pandering to a constituent, but if he does not publicly acknowledge climate change and support related legislation I simply won’t vote for him. I encourage all others in NC and in my district to write Burr, Hagan, and Myrick and let them know this.

    Does anyone know anything abut his proposed legislation? I can’t find any analysis using google.

  7. Sime says:

    Wow a gagle of genocidal loony tunes who appear live in an alternative reality from the rest of us.

    Apparently “Stultus est sicut stultus facit”, and shortly the American public will get the opportunity prove it one way or the other…

    Unfortunately having seen the comments by supposedly intelligent polliticans I rather suspect “Stultus” will win out on election day.

    These individuals should be voted into positions of power because they intend to serve the interest of the people and those of the United States. They should not be voted into positions of power in order to further their own interest or those of their oil backed sponsors.


  8. fj2 says:

    New Report: Climate Change and Bicycling

  9. WVhybrid says:

    In this article Joe has referenced a report by the National Academy of Science. While I think that reference is very relevant and important, I am concerned because I have never seen any statements by the National Academy of Engineering. I have, however, seen many passioned rants by practicing engineers claiming that AWG is a hoax.

    I’m not a member of the NAE, but I think that persuasion should be put on the that organization (as well as the engineering societies such as the ASME, AIChE, SAE, etc) to make statements regarding AWG. The members of these organizations actually build the cement kilns, power plants, automobiles, and other fossils fuel consumers that are leading our planet to disaster.

  10. John McCormick says:

    Folks, it is going to get only worse.

    Gov. Haley Barbouor is had of the republican governors association and as such has committed to winning all the contested and open gubenatorial races in November.

    People who watch governors’ races closely see that beginning to take shape (Maybe Colorado will be an exception.

    The more statehouses go republican, the better the chances to redistrict incumbent and challenger Democrats out of office or out of the race.

    repubs believe this Barbourous tragedy is key to repubs controlling the House for a decade or more.

    Hold on folks, we are about to hit the wall.

    John McCormick

  11. BBHY says:


    According to the NAE: “the work of the NAE has focused on establishing a balance between economic growth and environmental protection”.

    I think that answers your question on where they are in relation to climate change.

  12. fj2 says:

    #11 BBHY, “economic growth and environmental protection”

    The myth of economic growth required for human well-being has to be exposed not to include spreading the wealth which is extremely important to help those near the edge of survival.

  13. Bob Doublin says:

    I read about a third of the states and had to stop because I was getting sick to my stomach from the bullshit fumes. Having a full list like this of all the various denier candidates- Senate Representatives and Governors and the worst of the state offices-on one page,…one after another… on… and on… and on punches you in the face like nothing else can about what would be in store for us if they succeed in November. I am afraid.I am VERY afraid.

  14. richard pauli says:

    Clearly the Republicans think that global warming is something decided by the electorate. So the electorate thinks it will vote for or against global warming. And the now unified Repubs may have succeeded in framing the question that way

    Dems need to re-frame the differences to the more scientifically accurate statement of: “Republicans hasten and increase warming – and Dems seek ways to cool the climate”

  15. Sasparilla says:

    Wow, quite a page Joe, thank you for the excruciating details (and this is for the “reasonable” Senate, not the crazy House, ugh) – we (the US) really blew it (for the World) last year.

    While alot of the responsibility for the devastation we’re locking in will probably be hung on the Republicans in the future (in the US), that thought provides no comfort whatsoever.

    The people pushing this agenda regarding climate change inaction are going to take us (and the rest of the world) via the Republican Party, right over the cliff (patting themselves on the back, as they do it).

    As a species, it does not seem like we’re ready for this test (confronting and mitigating climate change on global or even national scales – I’d give Europe a passing grade on the national scale angle so far though).

  16. Josh Kaplowitz says:

    That’s what makes this election different. If it turns out as bad as we think, you will see a tide of legislators who are impervious to reason, persuasion or actual events. In other words, the threshold for what constitutes a unifying Climate Pearl Harbor is about to go up substantially. (Of course, in a rational world, all of 2010 would have done the trick…)

  17. toby says:

    It looks like the US is heading for a head-on clash between politics and science of a sort never seen before in a Western country. It seems a choice between Democracy and a new Lysenkoism.

  18. Peter Sergienko says:

    Mainstream Republican climate change denial is yet another example of politically expedient manipulation of the electorate solely to gain power. Here, fossil-fueled candidates are dangerously and cynically using climate change denial to secure the know-nothing/tea party/Christian apocalpytic crowd vote. The article on geo-engineering in the Guardian yesterday (link below) suggests that planetary climate manipulation is the rich and powerful’s end game. The declarations of the candidates in this article suggest that this year’s Republican candidates are their pawns.

    I’ll grant that the tea party sector of the electorate may not understand that it’s voting against all of humanity’s self-interest by supporting candidates who will do nothing to address global warming, but it’s fascinating (and horrifying) to see a group that largely identifies as religious and “values” based vote against their own belief system. For Christian conservatives, isn’t geoengineering the planet as stark an example that could exist of humanity imposing its will over God’s will? What part of the Lord’s Prayer do you not understand?

  19. paulm says:

    I think they know! They know and are scared!
    This whole issue must be such and interesting subject for psychologist.
    There are scary links to previous human behaviour from the past…

    Any way how can you deny this stroms vs temp…
    I really cant see why there is a debate about temp rise and storms, certainly in the Atlantic….

  20. cervantes says:

    Don’t forget, this denialism is not only funded by the fossil fuel industry, it is also entangled with Christian extremism. No surprise, since both religion and pseudoscientific movements including climate change denialism, AIDS denialism, vaccines cause autism, etc. require thinking backwards: starting with a conclusion which is assumed to be impermeable to refutation, and then cherry picking, distorting, inventing and organizing evidence around the conclusion.

    Critical thinking would be greatly encouraged by the abolition of religion.

  21. What GOP is doing is a very strong sign of desperation. Nevertheless, they work against the people.

  22. John McCormick says:


    ‘Critical thinking would be greatly encouraged by the abolition of religion.”

    Where do I sign up!

    John McCormick

  23. mike roddy says:

    The hillbillies on the Christian Right are just being used by the Republicans. Once their candidates are elected, it’s all about the high life in DC, including hookers of both sexes.

    Oriana Fallaci once mentioned a secret poll of Cardinals in the Vatican. The vast majority admitted that they did not actually, um, believe in God. It’s the same with GOP office seekers. It doesn’t get any more cynical than this, and the current manifestation is a willingness to forfeit humanity’s future in order to gain power.

    If Democratic politicians were willing to call them on this, we might see some change. I wish I knew what they were afraid of.

  24. mattlant says:


    ‘Critical thinking would be greatly encouraged by the abolition of religion.”

    Please do not confuse Religion with Religious extremeism. There is always an extreme element in anything, wether it be religion, capatalism, socialism, environmentalism, etc. A comment like that is very narrowminded, almost as bad as the narrowmindedness of the extremists.

    But on the topic of the post, as a Canadian, it makes me sad to see this large scale denialism, because I doubt that Canada will do anything until USA does. We seem to be under the Big Brother syndrome.

    Here’s to hoping dem’s victory this november.

  25. caerbannog says:

    Folks, everyone should dress up as “Climate Zombies” for this Halloween.

    A “Climate Zombie” costume would be easy to make — just take your standard zombie costume (torn clothes, fake blood, white cream makeup, etc.) and add a tinfoil hat plus an anti-Gore sign (something like “Al Gore is a Moran”).

    Does your place of employment encourage employees to wear Halloween costumes? Then you know what to do!

    Are your local politicians wingnuts? Then stop by their offices in your climate-zombie costume for a little “trick-or-treat” fun!

    Also, think about hosting a “Climate Zombie” party — invite all of your friends plus the local press.

    Use this Halloween to make this the “Year of the Climate Zombie”.

  26. John McCormick says:


    Mike, you asked,

    “If Democratic politicians were willing to call them on this, we might see some change. I wish I knew what they were afraid of.

    Simple, Unemployment on a personal level.

    John McCormick

  27. homunq says:

    There is value in listing the crazy positions of Republicans. However, it is at least as important to be pressuring Democrats to firm up their positions right now. Any hedged positions now will certainly translate to hedged votes later. In particular, we should be making lists of Democrats who have/have not signed on in principle to filibuster reform – the entirely-necessary and nearly-sufficient condition for positive federal climate legislation within this decade.

  28. John Mason says:

    Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, folks. O’Donnell has beaten Castle in Delaware:


  29. mike roddy says:

    John, #28, that’s good news. O’Donnell is a joke, who will show people what the “Tea Party” people are all about. She won’t get elected.

  30. John Mason says:

    Ah – OK Mike – thanks. It takes us Brits a while to figure out the ins and outs of American politics!

    Cheers – John

  31. If Democratic politicians were willing to call them on this, we might see some change. I wish I knew what they were afraid of.

  32. jyyh says:

    Heh, those people who say politicians are liars may well get their way.

  33. Chris Winter says:

    Mike Roddy wrote: “John, #28, that’s good news. O’Donnell is a joke, who will show people what the “Tea Party” people are all about. She won’t get elected.”

    Mike is correct; O’Donnell is probably unelectable. Even Karl Rove admits it, saying Delaware is one Senate seat the GOP won’t pick up.

    However, that is no reason for complacency about the November elections.