Andrea Mitchell: I Thought Al Gore Settled the Global Warming Issue

One may think that someone as well connected as long-time Washington correspondent and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell might also connect the dots. After an unseasonably rough DC winter occurring right in the midst of the ClimateGate scandal, she would be aware of doubt being cast over the idea of manmade global warming.

But if you want evidence her mind is made up regardless of any of this, you could detect from her reaction to a report from Politco's Jim VandeHei that some Republican candidates are using the climate change debate to advance their campaigns. On MSNBC's Aug. 18 broadcast of "Andrea Mitchell Reports," Mitchell expressed her surprise that candidates would invoke this issue.

"Well, you might think that the link between manmade greenhouse gases and global warming is clearly established science, but some Republican candidates are challenging conventional wisdom this year," Mitchell said.

Mitchell went on to play a TV spot from California GOP Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina, blasting incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., for her stands on global warming as a national security issue, even though many would argue there are other more serious threats on that front.

"Fiorina is not alone as Politico reports today," Mitchell said. "Joining me now is Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei. Jim, I got to tell you - John Kerry, Lindsay Graham and a whole group of retired generals are part of this national security initiative on climate change, so I just don't completely get it, especially in California. How does this work in a general election campaign in California?"

Mitchell was referring to an Aug. 18 Politico story by Darren Samuelsohn, which she obviously didn't read because it explained the strategy behind the use of this issue in a campaign. But VandeHei explained to it her and her viewers anyway.

"There's a big block of Republican candidates in California but also elsewhere, in Wisconsin where Rob Johnson is conservative, challenging Russ Feingold," VandeHei explained. "We see it in New Mexico. We see it in Nevada, these candidates who are really calling into the science behind global warming and also man's role in causing global warming. This is obviously been a big debate. We had it during the energy debate on Capitol Hill. What is surprising to us is we found a large number of people on the campaign trail sounding like [Sen.] James Inhofe, who has been one of the most unspoken conservatives on this issue on Capitol Hill."

But the source of Mitchell's confusion: She had thought that former Vice President Al Gore and "all of that" had settled this debate, as his word was final on the issue.

"Well in fact, Sharon Angle said that - she said in June that greenhouse gas legislation was based on an unscientific hysteria over the man-caused global warming hoax," Mitchell said. "It just seems that I thought that after Al Gore and all of that - that it was pretty much a settled issue. You could argue about the economics and the priorities over it, as Lindsay Graham and others have. I didn't think that they would be arguing this year that it wasn't settled science."

But as VandeHei said, there's a group of people that think the issue as been used politically to get certain provisions written into legislation and that climate change created by carbon emissions isn't the only way the globe's temperature is impacted, as Wisconsin GOP Senate hopeful Rob Johnson said in an interview published on Aug. 16 in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"But there's definitely a group of people who do not think it's settled science, or at least they think that the science is being exaggerated to make a political case in favor of these caps on carbon emissions as part of the larger energy bill," VandeHei said. "What you're seeing now is that the feeling manifested in a lot of the rhetoric during these campaigns. Rob Johnson was very, very clear in this interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he said, ‘I don't buy the science. I don't buy that argument.' He said that global warming could just as well be caused by, he pointed up in the sky, by sun spots. It's just a different view and there's a lot of conservatives who hold that view."