Whitehouse: Climate deniers are taken seriously only at ExxonMobil and in the Senate.

In the first Senate hearing today on clean energy legislation supported by President Barack Obama, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) compared the Senate to the “ExxonMobil board room.” Whitehouse expressed his concern that the United States would be left behind in the clean energy race, saying, “I do not want to see American industries at the back of that parade with a broom.” Addressing the Obama Cabinet members before him — Ken Salazar, Stephen Chu, Tom Vilsack, and Lisa Jackson — Whitehouse apologized for the denial of man-made climate change by his fellow senators:

We know that this is probably — along with the ExxonMobil board room — the last place that sober people debate whether or not these problems are real, but we intend to work with you anyway, and we hope to give you strong legislative support if we can.

Watch it:

ExxonMobil, the world’s largest company, is still directing money to climate-denial front groups, and has spent more than $9.3 million lobbying Congress this year alone. Sen. Whitehouse has previously noted the insidious influence of polluter spending on the Senate’s willingness to take the threat of climate change seriously.