Chris Matthews Claims GOP Ignorant of Science While Claiming Trees Absorb Carbon Monoxide

Note to Chris Matthews: when seeking to slam Republicans for their supposed ignorance of science, try not to expose your own.   On Tuesday's Hardball, Matthews—mocking the Republican congressmen vying for the chairmanship of the House Science Committee— committed this whopper: "As we all learned in grammar school—young people watching—trees absorb carbon monoxide."

As even an MSNBC host might know, carbon monoxide is a toxic gas produced when there is insufficient oxygen to permit complete oxidation. Think running car in closed garage. The greenhouse gas to which Matthews was presumably referring—and which trees are famous for absorbing—is carbon dioxide.  Perhaps it was just a slip of the overworked Matthews' tongue, but when it comes to a guy who likes to jump down any available Republican throat, turnabout is fair play. View the video after the jump.

Watch Matthews get hoist on his own monoxide.

H/t NB reader Peter V.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Job opening in the House Science Committee. The position of chairman of that committee will be up for grabs when the current chairman steps down from the post. Three Republicans have said they want the job. But based on the lineup you might think they're vying for a post on the House Anti-science Committee. The contenders are, first Lamar Smith, who's accused the media of skewing "in favor of global warming alarmists." Then there's Jim Sensenbrenner. He offered this nugget on the subject of global warming back in 2009. Quote, "I personally believe that the solar flares are more responsible for climatic cycles than anything that human beings do." Scientists, by the way, disagree with the Member. Anyway, facing off against these two, there's Dana Rohrabacher, who asked this question at a U.N. Hearing on climate change, quote, "is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rainforests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases?" Well, as we all learned in grammar school—younger people watching—trees absorb carbon monoxide.  What could be more counterproductive, Congressman Rohrabacher, than chopping down entire rainforests. Anyway, regardless of which of the bunch gets the chairmanship, they're evidently not looking for, well, they're not exactly looking up—things aren't looking up for the Science Committee.

Note: as a couple of readers have observed, some plants, notably spider plants, can absorb carbon monoxide.  And I have noted one article mentioning that trees can, too.  But Matthews made his comment in the context of rainforests and greenhouse gases, which relate to the debate over global warming.  In that context, it is the ability of trees to absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gase, which is relevant, and to which Matthews should have referred.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.