James Inhofe, the Strom Thurmond of Climate Denial

December 12, 2014

When school children learn about the era when the world could have done something to avoid most of the effects of climate change, but didn’t, Senator James Inhofe will be remembered in much the same way we remember the most vile segregationists of the Old South – as an answer to a multiple choice question, or short paragraph, about global tragedy.

Jake Tapper’s CNN interview above is  evidence that journalists are moving away from the “he said, she said” framing on climate change, and challenging science deniers more forcefully.  Unfortunately, about 30 years too late to avoid “a compliant,ignorant, incompetent, lazy, bought-off, and cowed media” from becoming an answer on the same test.

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Senator Inhofe made headlines recently in claiming that Climate Change was a global conspiracy headed up by Barbara Streisand, who apparently is pulling the strings of an international cabal of evil doers, who wish to destroy America.
I doubt this will be a future test answer.

Nevertheless, we expect similar headlines to grace the media on a regular basis as Senator Inhofe re-ascends to the chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the nation’s most powerful legislative seat in matters of the global life support system.  It is important that those who support and surround Senator Thur.. I mean, Inhofe, be always and forever made to answer for that support, challenged to defend his manifest craziness, and reminded of it whenever they wish to weigh in on matters of substance and fact.

In case you don’t remember Strom Thurmond and his Inhofe-like prominence in the segregationist movement, see below. (racial language alert)

The Washington Monthly:

Like many artists and most bigots, Strom Thurmond was highly productive early in life. By the age of fifty-five, the humorless South Carolina reactionary had run for president as a Dixiecrat, secured election to the U.S. Senate, penned the neo-confederate “Southern Manifesto” denouncing Brown v. Board of Education, and performed the longest one-man filibuster in the Senate’s history: a ghastly King Lear with pitchfork and noose, in which Thurmond denounced the 1957 Civil Rights Act as the death of liberty. (It ended when he grew hoarse and sat down.) When Lyndon Johnson pushed the much toothier Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress, he again did it over Thurmond’s filibuster. The following year, Thurmond fought the Voting Rights Act. His political idols were John C. Calhoun, Robert E. Lee, and Spiro Agnew. In his most famous speech, Thurmond pledged in 1948 that there were not enough troops in the Army to force “the southern people” to “admit the nigger race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.” But apparently they were allowed into “our” beds: in 1925 the twenty-two-year-old Thurmond sired a child with a sixteen-year-old African American family maid. His illegitimate daughter remained anonymous until her father’s death in 2003.

Today Strom Thurmond’s name brings to mind two sentiments: revulsion and disgrace. Here was a racist hypocrite who denounced the intermixing of black and white while secretly paying hush money to his own biracial daughter. He never apologized for his years as a segregationist, and even had the nerve later in life to deny that they ever occurred. Thurmond’s association was toxic enough to cost Trent Lott his position as Senate majority leader in 2002, when Lott suggested during an unguarded moment that the United States would have been a better place had Thurmond been elected president in 1948.

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11 Responses to “James Inhofe, the Strom Thurmond of Climate Denial”


  1. […] the true face of climate denial – starting with Strom,..ahem..James Inhofe, who is to climate as Strom Thurmond was to civil rights.  Now, another plum has fallen into my lap, with Senator Ted Cruz inserting himself prominently as […]


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