WHAT'S WRONG WITH JAMES INHOFE?
Courtesy of Photo Tune
Many people in Oklahoma, in Washington, DC, and in the rest of the country just know James Inhofe as the country's #1 Climate Change Denier. But there's far more to the man than just the dogmatic earth-is-flat worldview, of which he is so proud. When I got to the chapter entitled "The Right's War on Science" in Arianna Huffington's latest book, Right Is Wrong, I suspected there might be a mention of Inhofe and his bizarre relationship to reality. Arianna doesn't disappoint:
In the yearly contest for the coveted title of "Dumbest Senator" James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, is always in the running. Even in years when it seems like Kentucky's Jim Bunning may edge him out, Inhofe will perform a thrilling last-minute come-from-behind act of utter stupidity that earns him the tarnished cup for yet another year.
And, to top it off, Inhofe is usually a contender for "Craziest Elected Official," as well...
Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, has described global warming as "the second greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people after the separation of church and state." Inhofe has compared environmentalists to Nazis and the EPA to the Gestapo. He has also suggested that the global warming hoax might be perpetrated by the Weather Channel: "We all know the Weather Channel would like to have people afraid all the time." Inhofe may actually believe these things, or he may simply be overdoing it a bit trying to please his patrons in the oil and gas industries, which contributed more to his campaign in 2002 than to any other senator's except for Texas's John Cornyn.
No doubt Inhofe was the happiest of anyone on the Committee on the Environment hearing that the Bush Regime has disavowed the EPA staff's conclusions on greenhouse gases, rejecting plans to regulate them. Inhofe is a big admirer of the Cheney approach: covering up and censoring science on behalf of greed, avarice and discredited ideology.
This year Inhofe has a tough challenge from an energetic and articulate young state Senator, Andrew Rice, who is more in sync with the 21st Century than the 19th. Rice seems almost embarrassed for his opponent when it comes to his whacky pronouncements on the environment. He gently tries moving the argument in a more productive direction. He's clear man's actions have climate consequences "but rather than have that debate we should move forward with investments into renewable energy sources that can create thousands of jobs in Oklahoma while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and becoming a world leader on addressing global climate change." Rice sees Oklahoma's famous windswept switchgrass prairies as the basis for a high tech, clean energy industry that will be a job creation center and a world leader for a self-sustaining economic model. He wants to "shift federal tax incentives away from the single-fuel economy that leaves us dependent on foreign oil and toward development of alternative fuels that can be produced right here at home."
Polite people don't talk about the fact that Inhofe is also one of the most corrupt men in the U.S. Senate. It just is never said aloud. But it doesn't make it untrue and Emily Post was never a fave of mine. Arianna did mention, almost in passing, that Big Oil lavished more donations on Inhofe in 2002 than anyone but John Cornyn. Well, what do you think they're doing in 2008? Not counting the presidential contenders-- after all how could anyone compete with McCain's $1,010,868 from Oil & Gas?-- and again we find Cornyn at #1 for the year ($480,100) and Inhofe at #2 ($220,350). His career total from the Oil and Gas industries is $1,076,573, the biggest single chunk of his campaign funds, more than double the next closest.
Inhofe may come across as a cranky, crazy old retrobate but he knows precisely what he's doing. He's never met a corporate lobbyist to whom he was unwilling to sell a vote-- and make no mistake about it: James Inhofe is selling his votes. He consistently votes against the interests of his constituents and in favor of his heavy corporate campaign donors. He is one of the biggest toadies in the entire Congress when it comes to shilling for Big Business. It isn't the way he presents himself to the public, of course, and it isn't something the Oklahoma media is ever willing to get into, but if the Senate wasn't making its own rules governing what its members are allowed to do and not do, James Inhofe would have been hauled off to prison years ago and charged with suborning bribery.
Anyone who donates at least $30 to Andrew Rice's campaign through our Blue America page this weekend will get a copy of the delightful book, 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Fight The Right.