If you wondered why Sunday evening television seemed so fun, and non-vomit inducing, it’s because CBS’s Madam Secretary was between seasons.
But fear not, “Madam Hillary” is back, and they’re here to let you know that global warming will destroy the United States Navy. While President Dalton (Keith Carradine) struggles through his reelection bid, a naval base in Bahrain is hit with a tropical cyclone of epic proportions. Causing billions of dollars in damage, and at least one death.
Which leads to this exchange between the State Department and DOD:
Jay: This draft looks solid. Remember, any adjustment to the rotation schedule has to meet the definition of minimum credible deterrence, so make sure we include language saying that the Bahrainis have to consult with the Secretary of the Navy before closing any facilities.
DOD Agent: Got it.
Jay: Other than that, we're good to go. I guess I'll see you next storm of the century.
DOD Agent: Yeah, which will be in what, about three years?
Jay: Let's hope not.
DOD Agent: Sure, let's hope. That ought to work. I'm sorry. It's a bug up my ass. Just four years ago, the base in Singapore was hit with a similar once in a lifetime storm. Billions of dollars in damage. These weather events are happening every year. And all our internal reports are falling on deaf ears. Sea levels are rising. And what we should be doing is raising every single U.S. Naval base around the world. But we both know that'll never happen.
Jay: How do we know that?
DOD Agent: Ask your boss.
Extra scandalous is that we find out later in the show that DOD has constantly warned about threats to naval bases due to climate change. Yet, because all those crusty conservatives in Congress won’t admit climate change is real, in addition to not wanting their favorite base construction contractors to have to deal with pesky environmental-based building codes, nothing was done to help protect the bases from rising sea levels.
It also happens that the particular contractor of the naval base in Bahrain is also President Dalton’s biggest campaign donor.
This poses quite the predicament for “Madam Hillary” (Tea Leoni) who is being considered for VP by President Dalton and disagrees with him on global warming. As this exchange so dramatically reveals:
Madam Secretary: Sir, we need to talk. How are you, Russell?
Russell: I am very Sam Evans.
Madam Secretary: That can't be fun.
President: Take a seat. I could use a break.
Madam Secretary: I need to know why, when every respected climate scientist in the country had warned that the Bahraini base was subject to damage from cyclones, Burton Standard Enterprises did nothing to address the problem when it refurbished the base just two years ago?
Russell: Okay. Can we have the room?
Madam Secretary: I'm S... Sorry. I thought... Ah. I thought that they should hear it.
Russell: You thought the campaign team should hear you lighting into the business practices of one of the president's biggest donors?
Madam Secretary: Much bigger than that.
Madam Secretary: It's not just the denial of climate change that's holding us back, even the location of the base is further evidence that we're stuck in old thinking. Why are we still in Bahrain at all? Why should the U.S. spend its blood and treasure in the Persian Gulf, aiding and defending states with atrocious human rights records, while countries like Tunisia-- who actually share our values-- go unaided?
President: As poetic as that sounds, Bess, that's a pretty simplified take on one of the world's most complicated regions.
Russell: There's this new thing called terrorism. It's really catching on.
Madam Secretary: Bahrain has nothing to do with our strategy to fight terrorism. And we need to be honest with ourselves about the real challenges we face, or we are going to face a future with more and more American lives sacrificed, and for what? Preserving the power of people like Julius Burton? I mean, exactly when did the United States start making every decision based on strategic and politically expedient reasons? If we partner with nations just to remain dominant on the world stage, how are we any less imperialistic than Russia or China? I think we are at a critical juncture in human history and the U.S. Needs to completely overhaul its relationship with the international community.
President: How could you seriously suggest a complete change of U.S. Foreign policy during an election which I am barely winning? I'm already backed against the wall for allowing a dirty bomb attack on my watch, not to mention trading a treacherous spy to the Russians for reasons that I can't disclose. And now you expect me to explain to the American people that I'm going to pull stakes on a major strategic position in the Middle East? And totally alienate my biggest donor in the process? What good is bold idealism if it all but guarantees the loss of a second term?
Madam Secretary: I'm talking about doing what's right.
President: And I'm talking about winning.
She’s so daring and principled, isn’t she? As a result of this principled stand, Dalton reverses course on global warming, admits it is a reality, pledges to make changes to prepare for it, and his campaign, which causes him to lose his party’s nomination.
Of course, if Dalton wanted to embrace truth, he would have seen that sea levels are at most, rising regardless and completely independent of any human cause. And at least, not happening at all.
But I suppose the leading experts on sea level tracking aren’t among the “credible” scientists Madam Hillary was referring to.