In my opinion, it’s never a good day to be CNN Crossfire co-host and conservative commentator, S.E. Cupp. While she stops short of the unironic anti-feminist parody that is Ann Coulter, she does her own fair share of leveraging perceived sex appeal to promote a dangerous agenda. But in a certain way, Cupp outdoes Coulter in disingenuousness. I’m referring to the moderator’s tendency to offer opinion polls as “evidence” of a liberal guest’s misinformation on a given issue.
This week was a particularly challenging one for the hapless Cupp. And frankly she got what she deserved – from a mild-mannered, brilliant scientist wearing a bow tie. It was sort of majestic, and definitely inspiring.
Cupp was quick and repetitive in demonstrating the annoying trait described above on Tuesday night’s broadcast devoted to the climate change debate. She opened the show by turning to beloved scientist, engineer and TV personality Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) to ask:
“Even if what Van and the White House are saying [about the National Climate Assessment update] is all true, the scare tactics have not worked.”
And how do we know that the liberal tendency to engage scientific fact in order to promote revisions in environmental policy is a loser? Well, as Cupp said, “Only about 36 percent of Americans think global warming is a serious threat to our way of life.”
That is a neat trick of rhetorical acrobatics that has been appallingly effective for the GOP: promoting voter ignorance as an argument for party stupidity. It disrespects both the public and the political establishment simultaneously, yet the diehards eat it right up. One of the more confounding phenomena of our time.
Sadly, this is nothing new and many of us who enjoy critical thinking and the prospect of planetary continuity have become inured to the constant anxiety, depression and helplessness. We are used to the dread that accompanies awareness. We understand that the human race is careening toward a ditch in a car driven by global Big Business and its government lackeys, but we can’t get half of our fellow citizens to acknowledge we’re even moving. Simple science.
Thankfully Bill Nye is in possession of the type of feistiness that liberals (and yes, I acknowledge grief that environmental common sense has become partisan) are going to need in order to have a prayer of saving humanity. The discursive blows were delivered fast and furious to an outmatched Cupp and her cohort, Nick Loris of the Heritage Foundation (who might as well have stayed home). In only his second full sentence of the broadcast, Nye demolished Cupp’s smug misuse of statistics by asking, “So, how do you want to get public consensus, by saying that it’s not happening, that it’s not serious, that shorelines aren’t flooding?”
This was only the beginning of one of the most entertaining installments of the rebooted opinion show to date. Check out this beautiful exchange roughly halfway through the show:
“Cupp: You can look at entitlement reform, which will bankrupt this country long before climate change destroys us.
Heart disease kills seven million a year worldwide. 870 million suffer from hunger. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me in good conscience that climate change is our most urgent, No. 1 priority right now.
Nye: Climate change is our most urgent No. 1 priority right now.
Cupp: That’s what I thought you would say.”
I was ready to invoke the slaughter rule but Nye wasn’t finished by a long shot. He even gave those of us who fervently seek to address climate change, post-talking stage, a polite but tough slogan: “I think the scientific community has been very patient.”
We can’t afford to play nice anymore. Nothing less than the planet and human existence are at stake. And the more people we have like Bill Nye committed to the cause – armed with facts, backbone and most importantly, ideas – the better our shot at survival.