Senator Inhofe to CNN Host: You Smile ‘When You’re Cutting My Guts Out’
Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe appeared on Tuesday's "American Morning" to challenge CNN anchor Miles O’Brien over a previous report on the Senator’s global warming position. Specifically, this was in reference to a piece on the September 28 edition of the program that portrayed Inhofe’s skepticism on the subject as less than noble. O'Brien had asserted:
"Now we should point out in a recent five-year period, Senator Inhofe received more than $850,000 in donations from the oil and gas industries, his leading contributor. Inhofe challenged the media to get this story right, as he put it, but when we asked for an interview several times, we were told he is too busy to speak to us this week."
Inhofe did appear this week and he came ready to challenge the CNN host:
INHOFE: "Well, Miles, it's nice to be with you. I know you don't believe it, but it is nice to be with you....You know why? You always smile. So many of these extremists out there, they are mad all the time. But you're not; you smile. In fact, when you're cutting my guts out for two minutes last week, you smiled all the way through it. And I appreciate that."
Talk about damning with faint praise, O’Brien either wasn’t interested in taking the bait, or didn’t understand Inhofe’s meaning. He responded simply, "Well, yes, we got to keep it all in perspective."
From the very beginning of the October 3 segment, which aired at 8:33AM EDT, Senator Inhofe made it clear that he could ably discuss the minutia of global warming:
O'BRIEN: "There's a 2005 study I'd like to cite for you. It comes from the British Antarctic Survey and it contradicts some previous assertions. It says this: ‘The massive West Antarctic ice sheet, previously assumed to be stable, is starting to collapse. Glaciers on the Antarctic peninsula which protrudes from the continent to the north were already known to be retreating.’ What do you say to that?"
INHOFE: "Well, I say -- I quoted a good scientific source and you have too. One of the things that is happening is that in some areas -- and I think Greenland's a good example -- it's actually getting thicker in the middle, but it's calving -- the term that they use --on the outside. So the overall ice cap is getting thicker but it's getting thinner on the outside.Now, keep in mind, this has been going on now for-"
O'BRIEN: "But- But- The concern, of course, is ice that goes into the water, because ultimately that is what leads to -- from the land to the water -- leads to a rise in sea levels. And that's the big concern. And that's what they're talking about here. You don't discount that?"
INHOFE: "Well, yes, I do discount that, because in some areas you might find that the sea level is rising, not in other areas. But I would like to go back and just look at the science on these things. When you talk about the polar bears, for example. I heard your piece on that, and you did a very excellent piece. You scared a lot of people when you did your special....So what I try to do is look at the science. Because I'm not a scientist; neither are you."
A few minutes later, Inhofe took Mr. O’Brien to task for his previous report, in which the CNN anchor cited Representative Chris Shays as an example of a Republican who supports the notion that urgent action is needed to combat global warming:
INHOFE: "And another thing of interest -- you trotted out this guy Chris Shays. Out of 230 members of the United States Congress, he is ranked as the most liberal member. Sure, he's going to come out and criticize me. Let's look at people on-"
O'BRIEN: "I understand. I tell you what, there are some others, though. Let's listen to a couple of them. First of all, Senator John McCain."
O’Brien then played a clip of Senator McCain expressing his support for climate change legislation. In an apparent attempt to insinuate that most reasonable Republicans accept global warming as fact, he cited yet another GOP member:
O'BRIEN: "And we've got one more, a veteran congressman who's on the Science Committee, Sherwood Boehlert. Let's listen to him."
BOEHLERT: "I think there's no doubt about it: The broad scientific consensus on global climate change is for real. Moreover, it's acknowledged that man has contributed significantly to the problem. And we've got to do something about it."
O'BRIEN: "It's not just Chris Shays we're talking about."
INHOFE: "No. Let me respond. Well, you've picked out Sherry. He's number two inthe most liberal. But as far as John McCain's concerned, he's a good friend of mine. I've served with him. However, John McCain is running for president and this is a huge, popular issue. Seventy percent of the people have been duped by the media."
To elaborate on Senator Inhofe’s point, Chris Shays lifetime American Conservative Union rating is 47. Congressman Boehlert ranks slightly lower at 40. Senator McCain, has a relatively decent score of 83, but is known for being a "maverick" on many GOP issues. And these are the examples that Miles O’Brien chooses to present? Does anyone really believe that he would select a quote from former Senator Zell Miller and present it as the words of a typical Democrat?
Senator Inhofe then referenced the CNN report from last week in which O’Brien insinuated that the senator is isolated in his thinking on global warming. Inhofe then quickly raised an apparent O’Brien quote from 12 years ago:
INHOFE: "But let's keep in mind, when you say that I've been alone on this issue, the last time-"
O'BRIEN: "Well, I said ‘all but alone’ -in saying it's a hoax. That's what I said."
INHOFE: "No. No. The last time- The last time we had a vote on this, it was last year when I led the charge against John McCain on the floor. He had a bill that was called the Kyoto Lite bill. And we won 60 to 38. So I'm not alone; there are 59 other senators that are out there. And I wonder also, Miles, it wasn't long ago -- you've got to keep everyone hysterical all the time. You were the one that said another ice age is coming just 12 years ago."
O'BRIEN: "I said that? I didn't say that."
INHOFE: "You didn't say that. Let me quote you-"
O'BRIEN: "No, no, no. I'd be willing to tell you there are stories like that. But there's not-"
INHOFE: "-quote you so I'll be accurate. I don't want to be inaccurate. "
O'BRIEN: "All right, go ahead.
INHOFE: You said, in talking about a shift that was coming -- you said, ‘If the Gulf Stream were to shift again, the British Isles could be engulfed in polar ice and Europe's climate could become frigid.’ That's another scary story."
The CNN anchor attempted to "zing" Inhofe one last time by playing a quote from President Bush:
O’Brien: "I want to do one thing here quickly. Let's listen to the President for just a moment."
GEORGE W. BUSH: "I have said consistently that global warming is a serious problem. There's a debate whether it's man-made or naturally caused. We ought to get beyond the debate and implementing the technologies to enable us to achieve big objectives."
O'BRIEN: "The President seems to be saying we should err on the side of caution given the stakes here. What do you say to that?"
INHOFE: "Well, what the President has said, ‘I don't know whether it's manmade or natural. But we need to get beyond that point.’ That's a good statement, and I agree. My committee that I chair, just two weeks ago, had a hearing on the technology that could be used out there in the event that we wanted to do something and found that CO2 had something to do with it. But keep in mind, CO2, if everyone complied with the Kyoto treaty, it would only decrease the temperature in 50 years by six one-hundredths of a degree."
O'BRIEN: "We’re not talking about Kyoto. He's just saying something should be done -- in other words, err on the side of caution."
Having been thoroughly challenged point by point, O’Brien attempted to quickly wrap up the interview. Senator Inhofe quickly slipped in one last dig. "Keep smiling," Inhofe remarked in reference to his contention that O’Brien smiles as he rips people to pieces.
It should be noted that the two stories O’Brien anchored in the past week represent only the beginning of his global warming bias. On February 9 of this year, the CNN anchor hosted a piece on evangelical leaders who support climate change initiatives:
O’BRIEN: "You know, I know that science and religion are often at odds, but the scientific evidence is overwhelming at this point. Are you denying that?"
REVEREND RICHARD LAND: "There are scientists who deny it. There are scientists who've said -- "
O’BRIEN: "Scientists who are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry, usually."
LAND: "Well, not, not necessarily. I'm not going-"
O'BRIEN: "Mostly, yeah."
For more on today’s bout between O’Brien and Inhofe, check out this report by the Business and Media Institute.