During a discussion of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Monday morning, Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough defended Rubio’s position on climate change while also claiming that Democrats are like “televangelists” when it comes to the science behind climate change. Rubio was interviewed by ABC’s Jonathan Karl over the weekend and confirmed his intent to run for President in 2016. During the interview, he pointed out that he won’t run for Senate again while running for the White House and roundly criticized Hillary Clinton’s record as Secretary of State. However, the major portion of the interview that the Morning Joe panel focused on was Rubio’s denial that climate change is man-made and that there is anything we can do to stem the tide. HE directly stated that he does not believe scientists.
During the panel discussion, Scarborough tried valiantly to twist Rubio’s words into something a bit less nutty. While it was absolutely clear that Rubio had taken the position of absolute climate change denial and stated that he feels that nothing at all should be done politically, Scarborough tried to make it appear that Rubio was merely trying to offer a somewhat reasonable counter-stance to the Democrats ‘all of nothing’ approach to climate change. At this point, he kept bringing up Al Gore and his statements that Florida would be under water in 50 years. Scarborough’s position became one that Democrats are preaching too much on the subject, acting like televangelists and taking a one-sided stance. In Scarborough’s view, there should be more debate on climate change and different opinions and viewpoints should be allowed in. Because, you know, science is just like ideological politics.
Thankfully, the rest of the panel didn’t allow Joe to go unchallenged with his complete misinterpretation of Rubio’s stance on climate change. Scarborough initially tried to shape Rubio as being open to a more gradual and subtle legislative process in dealing with the man-made climate change. Both Mika Brzezinski and Jon Meacham stated that Rubio said nothing of the sort. It was obvious that Rubio stated that he does not believe in man-made climate change and he disagrees with the findings of scientists. Therefore, it was absolutely disingenuous for Scarborough to present Rubio’s statements as being anything less than extreme and pure climate science skepticism.
Another thing that that was particularly annoying during this segment was Scarborough’s constant bashing of Al Gore. He claimed that because Gore has made it a mission to bring awareness to global warming and the effects it will have on the planet, he’s caused Democrats to overreach on climate change and stick to an “extremists” view that has caused Republicans to reject the science. He constantly referred to Gore throughout the discussion, bringing him up over and over in a negative context.
Finally, Harold Ford shot back and pointed out that while Gore’s persistence and rhetoric may have pushed Republicans further into climate change skepticism due to pure politics, Gore should be given a lot of credit for what he’s helped achieve. Without Gore’s push towards climate change awareness, we probably wouldn’t be as far along in regards to hybrid vehicles and green technology. Ford also stated that Gore helped make people aware that farming is actually the number one emitter of carbon into the atmosphere and that efforts need to be done there in terms of reducing emissions.
Of course, in typical Morning Joe fashion, Scarborough backtracked on his statements about Gore and made it seem that he wasn’t criticizing or bashing him. In fact, per Joe, he agrees with much of what Gore has said and has told him many times. (You see, Joe Scarborough is a Very Important Person who knows many powerful players.) He then said that he just thinks he overreached a bit, came off a little too much like a televangelist (there’s that word again) but that he did a lot to bring awareness to the problem.
Here’s the biggest issue I have with the way pundits like Scarborough discuss climate change. They feel like you can talk about this in the context of opinion polls and political ideology. Conservative commentators and lawmakers constantly think that this is a matter of debate. The thing is, science doesn’t work that way. We can’t vote against climate change in the next election. Climate change deniers can’t do well in debates and exit polls and think that the science will all of a sudden make a dramatic shift to agreeing with them. Global warming skeptics can’t buy a bunch of campaign ads and, suddenly, man-made climate change is no more. It doesn’t work that way. Yet, that is what we see from conservatives every single day.