James Inhofe Has Finally Lost It
February 08, 2007
Frank O'Donnell is president of Clean Air Watch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization aimed at educating the public about clean air and the need for an effective Clean Air Act.
Maybe global warming has finally gotten to Senator James Mountain Inhofe, R-Okla. The Senate’s resident crackpot on global warming finally seems to have—well, cracked up.
The concern is prompted by a live interview that CNN anchorman Miles O’Brien conducted last week with Inhofe. For years, many have thought Inhofe took reactionary positions on global warming—calling it a “hoax”—because of the positive feedback loop provided by so many big polluter campaign contributions. But in the O’Brien interview, Inhofe exhibited disturbing symptoms.
O’Brien quizzed Inhofe following President Bush’s recent acknowledgement of “the serious challenge of global climate change” and as word was leaking about the new international climate report, which links human activities to global warming. Inhofe’s replies suggested someone in a state of denial, paranoia—someone disconnected from reality. Or was Inhofe merely struggling with the loss of his Senate committee chairmanship following the recent elections?
Consider, for example, when O’Brien asked him about James Hansen, the noted NASA scientist who has long warned about global warming.
Inhofe continued with a paranoid rant about the climate scientists assembled by the U.N. in Paris:
O’Brien forged ahead gamely, giving not a hint that his interview subject perhaps was trying to anesthetize his feelings of inadequacy.
With a poker face rivaling that of The Sopranos ' Dr. Melfi, O’Brien noted that even such big corporations as General Electric and Duke Energy had agreed it was time to support a cap on global warming emissions.
Aware that his interview subject appeared unbalanced, O’Brien started talking like a therapist:
But Inhofe appeared to start hallucinating—conjuring up a vision of an America where coal wasn’t used at all (a vision shared by no one else in Congress).
Hoping to return Inhofe to reality by touching his spiritual side, O’Brien played a clip in which an official with the National Association of Evangelicals invoked a “biblical duty as evangelical Christians” to deal with global warming. But it didn’t work.
With that, the time was up.
Those of us who have followed Inhofe over the years know that the former real estate developer and failed insurance company president likes to speak his mind . It wasn’t that many years ago that Inhofe likened former EPA Administrator Carol Browner to Tokyo Rose, and the EPA itself to The Gestapo. But little did we realize at the time that Inhofe may actually have been delusional—perhaps thinking he was a character in a World War II movie, or even fighting in the war.
Maybe it’s time for an intervention by mental health professionals so the poor man doesn’t harm himself—or us.