Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hot Air Rising

Barbara Boxer and Jim Inhofe are one of the Senate's oddest couples. She drives a Prius. He drives a Hummer. She thinks climate change is an urgent problem. He thinks global warming is a hoax. She represents a state that went for Obama by 23 percentage points. His was the only state where John McCain won every county.
Yet the California Democrat and the Oklahoma Republican, chairman and former chairman, sit side-by-side on the environment and public works committee, which on Tuesday held its first hearing on climate-change legislation. With an unusually high senatorial turnout and a line of spectators that stretched down the hall—complete with activists dressed in muscle suits, urging senators to "beef up" the bill—Boxer and Inhofe drew their lines in the sand. From a legislative standpoint, the hearing was next to useless. But as a piece of political theater, it might have earned a Tony.

"Today I expect you will hear fierce words of doubt and fear," Boxer said in her opening statement. "This is consistent with a pattern of 'No, we can't; no, we won't.' " Inhofe wanted none of it. "However you spin the debate, whatever schemes you concoct, the public will find out, and when they do, they will reject the schemes, and they will reject the spin," he said, characterizing the House's version of climate legislation as the "largest tax increase in American history."

By Lydia DePillis

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