Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), an outgoing lawmaker with nothing left to lose after having his fate sealed through a primary challenge from the right earlier this year, expressed his frustrations with the GOP's trajectory toward climate change denial Wednesday in a harsh rebuke that blasted his party's hard-headed refusal to listen to scientific experts.
"Because 98 of the doctors say, 'Do this thing,' two say, 'Do the other.' So, it's on the record. And we're here with important decision to be made." Inglis said of his party's readiness to listen to minority dissenting voices on the issue. "There are people who make a lot of money on talk radio and talk TV saying a lot of things. They slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and they're experts on climate change. They substitute their judgment for people who have Ph.D.s and work tirelessly [on climate change]."
Then Inglis laid out the potential consequences.
"And I would also suggest to my Free Enterprise colleagues -- especially conservatives here -- whether you think it's all a bunch of hooey, what we've talked about in this committee, the Chinese don't. And they plan on eating our lunch in this next century. They plan on innovating around these problems, and selling to us, and the rest of the world, the technology that'll lead the 21st century," Inglis told his colleagues. "So we may just press the pause button here for several years, but China is pressing the fast-forward button. And as a result, if we wake up in several years and we say, 'geez, this didn't work very well for us.'"
Inglis's reflection on the GOP's tendency to reject the findings of climate scientists isn't just about the party's image, it's also indicative a trend that's likely to find its way into the highest levels of legislative leadership, as the top chairman picks for House committees on Energy and Commerce, as well as Science, all have expressed doubts about the validity of climate change.
And these beliefs appear only to be growing in the GOP's freshman ranks. A recent report by ThinkProgress showed that 50 percent of incoming Republican legislators are outspoken climate change deniers. This opinion was just as rampant in Senate GOP ranks.
Inglis has been an unapologetic critic of his party since his torpedoing by the more-conservative Trey Gowdy in June. A month after his loss, Inglis attacked conservative leaders for "demagoguery" in their use of hyperbolic, incendiary and false rhetoric in some of their partisan criticisms. Later that summer, Inglis attributed his electoral failure to his refusal to call Obama a "socialist."
Video and transcript via ThinkProgress:
INGLIS: I'm very excited to be here Mr. Chairman, because this is on the record. And it's a wonderful thing about Congressional hearings -- they're on the record. Kim Beasley (SP?) who's Australia's ambassador to the United States tells me that when he runs into a climate skeptic, he says to them, "Make sure to say that very publicly, because I want our grandchildren to read what you said and what I said. And so, we're on the record, and our grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, are going to read. And so some are here suggesting to those children that here's a deal: Your child is sick -- this is what Tom Friedman gave me this great analogy yesterday -- Your child is sick. 98 doctors say treat him this way. Two say no, this other way is the way to go. I'll go with the two. You're taking a big risk with those kids. Because 98 of the doctors say, "Do this thing," two say, "Do the other." So, it's on the record.
And we're here with important decision to be made. And I would also suggest to my Free Enterprise colleagues -- especially conservatives here -- whether you think it's all a bunch of hooey, what we've talked about in this committee, the Chinese don't. And they plan on eating our lunch in this next century. They plan on innovating around these problems, and selling to us, and the rest of the world, the technology that'll lead the 21st century. So we may just press the pause button here for several years, but China is pressing the fast-forward button. And as a result, if we wake up in several years and we say, "geez, this didn't work very well for us. The two doctors didn't turn out to be so right. 98 might have been the ones to listen to." then what we'll find is we're way behind those Chinese folks. 'Cuz you know, if you got a certain number of geniuses in the population -- if you're one in a million in China, there's 1300 of you. And you know what?
They plan on leading the future. So whether you -- if you're a free enterprise conservative here -- just think: it's a bunch of hooey, this science is a bunch of hooey. But if you miss the commercial opportunity, you've really missed something. And so, I think it's great to be here on the record. I think it's great to see the opportunity we've got ahead of us. And, I also -- since this is sort of a swan song for me and Mr. Barrett I'd encourage scientists who are listening out there to get ready for the hearings that are coming up in the next Congress. Those will be difficult hearings for climate scientists. But, I would encourage you to welcome those as fabulous opportunities to teach.