Mike Lee stood on the floor of history’s greatest deliberative body — where debates over war and peace, slavery and freedom were carried on by giants in our nation’s history — and pointed to a poster of Ronald Reagan firing a machine gun while riding an American flag-waving velociraptor.
The Utah senator was trashing the Green New Deal, the nonbinding climate resolution put forward by New York Rep. Alexendria Ocasio-Cortez. It proposes reducing emissions, slowing climate change and maybe prolonging humanity’s place on this planet.
From Lee’s standpoint, his amateur standup act was giving the resolution the “seriousness it deserves.”
In the process, the senator fell back on the same lazy right-wing spin of the Green New Deal, saying that its two “most prominent goals” are getting rid of airplanes and putting an end to flatulent cows.
It proposes neither, of course. It was a self-deprecating talking point tossed into a news release that has been taken out of context and hammered by Lee and others. It does propose building out a high-speed rail network that would be more efficient than air travel. It says nothing about cows.
Still, without airplanes, Lee derisively suggested, we could travel to Alaska on the back of tauntauns from “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” and get to Hawaii on giant seahorses like in the old Aquaman cartoons.
The closest thing he came to offering an alternative was even more laughable than giant seahorses: Have more babies.
And he was serious about this one. The more babies we have the more tiny brains that will grow into big brains to dream up the big solutions that we don’t have the brainpower or political will to implement on our own.
As usual, the solution was in our pants all along.
By the time these newborns are through college, they’re likely to be focused on finding a solution — the impending end of civilization has that effect on some people.
I also imagine they’ll be pretty ticked when I show them the video of Lee’s floor speech and how seriously the supposed leaders of my generation took the problem.
Lee’s fellow Utah climate denier, Rep. Rob Bishop, thinks the Green New Deal is a lot more dire than Lee is making it out to be. He says the policies envisioned amount to “genocide” against ethnic groups like him — Westerners.
A couple weeks earlier, Bishop warned that if the Green New Deal passed people wouldn’t even be able to eat hamburgers — a warning issued as he took a bite out of a hamburger.
“If this goes through, this will be outlawed,” Bishop said between bites. “I could no longer eat this type of thing.”
So the Green New Deal is either as serious as genocide or as nonsensical as Reagan on a dinosaur or somewhere in the middle, like banning hamburgers.
And people listen to this stuff. Tribune reporter Courtney Tanner wrote this week about the number of people who turned out to a recent school board hearing to decry the curriculum that teaches evolution and not The Bible, says we share DNA with apes (apes would likely not see this as flattery, either), and tries to inform students about a changing climate.
If these Luddites had their way, we could make all the babies we want and we’d still just have armies of Mike Lees running around.
There are probably those who think we should lighten up. Lee was just having a little fun, and it was at least a little funny. But the problem is that a mild chuckle is pretty much all he and the representative from Brigham City have contributed to the discussion.
In Bishop and Lee, we have two men who between them have been in Congress for nearly a quarter of a century, yet neither has offered a single substantive proposal to address climate change.
Lee hasn’t so much as suggested shrinking by 15 percent the oil he slathers in his diminishing hair and Bishop can’t muster even a 10 percent reduction in the time that the tangerine congressman spends in a tanning bed. The solutions are right there in the mirror.
Sure, they’ll complain about wildfire that is scarring their state and the region. Lee will vote against funding for hurricane relief. But when it comes to solutions, all they have to offer is condescension and snide dismissiveness.
That’s supposed to be my job.
Keep your clown car in your own lane, gentlemen.
I have no problem at all with anyone disagreeing and disparaging the Green New Deal. Criticize, attack, ridicule, all you want.
If it’s a bad idea, you have a right and a duty to make your case. But if it’s a bad idea, give us better ideas. You’re part of the solution or you’re part of the problem. If baby-making is the best you can come up with then step aside and let serious people do the grown-up work of leading.