Politics of Climate Change | Years of Living Dangerously


BRADLEY WHITFORD: I want
to know why there aren’t more Republicans in
Congress willing to come forward on climate. So I’m going to
meet the GOP’s most outspoken critic, Democratic
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: I
am back to again urge my colleagues to wake
up to the stark reality of climate change. BRADLEY WHITFORD: Nearly every
week for the last four years, Whitehouse has taken
to the Senate floor. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: I
am here today for now the 50th time, 64th, 73rd. I’m going to keep doing this. I’m never going to walk
away from this issue. Today is my 103rd,
107th, 145th time. Hi. If this is uncomfortable for
my colleagues, I apologize. But basically, I don’t BRADLEY WHITFORD: Care. Whitehouse pulls no
punches when it comes to calling out Republicans. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: They’d just
as soon wash their hands of it. BRADLEY WHITFORD: For
being the last remaining conservative party
on Earth to deny the science of climate change. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: It is time. It is well past time. BRADLEY WHITFORD:
Like a lot of people, this situation drives me nuts. That what should not
be a partisan issue has become a partisan issue. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: But it
really isn’t a partisan issue. You’ve got to look
behind the partisanship and see who’s
pulling the strings. The truly evil story is what the
fossil fuel industry is doing. They’ve taken power centers
of the Republican Party and grabbed them all. And if they pull their support
from a Republican candidate, that’s a very serious threat. BRADLEY WHITFORD: Do you
see any Republicans who want to do the right thing on this? SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: I would say
12 to 20 Republican senators would like to be
involved in a serious piece of climate legislation,
and feel they can’t. Talking to Republican
senators about climate change is like talking to
prisoners about escape. They look around. And the whole
conversation is how are we going to get safely over
the fence or under the fence. Have you’ve got a tunnel? These are people
who’ve got essentially a political gun to their heads. BRADLEY WHITFORD: Right. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: And they
are being told, you do this and it’s a career ender. BRADLEY WHITFORD:
Do you see any hope? Any daylight there? SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: A lot. What I’m buoyed by
is the conversations from Republican senators saying,
I know I can’t get there yet. But keep doing
what you’re doing. BRADLEY WHITFORD: What
does it take to turn them? SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:
Safe passage. Some form of safe passage. BRADLEY WHITFORD: I’m amazed by
what Whitehouse is telling me. Despite the threat of
the fossil fuel lobby, there may be enough
Republican votes in the Senate to pass a climate bill.

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