On the June 24 "American Morning," CNN's Carol Costello trumpeted a "revitalized" environmental movement that is hoping the Gulf oil spill will "change the way we feel about oil" and is aggressively lobbying Congress to pass radical climate change legislation.
Previewing the "Gut Check" segment, Costello gleefully teased, "Coming up next, environmentalists are revitalized and it's over the Gulf oil spill. Could this disaster be what we need in this country to change the way we feel about oil?"
In lockstep with the Left's environmental agenda, the fill-in anchor pondered whether the Gulf oil spill would crystallize support for a climate bill or would "it be back to business as usual?" Costello articulated the same phrase environmental groups frequently employ to manufacture a false sense of urgency around their liberal initiatives.
Interviewing David Rauschkolb, founder of Hands Across the Sand, a liberal group opposed to offshore drilling, Costello praised the forerunner to Rauschkolb's new group – Earth Day – for "strengthening the Clean Air Act and helping President Nixon create the Environmental Protection Agency." Costello did not reach out to conservative critics who argue that draconian environmental regulations stymie economic growth and breed unemployment.
Costello also claimed that the Sierra Club, a juggernaut in the environmental movement, capitalized on conservative criticism to generate public support for liberal causes.
"When Rush Limbaugh blamed environmentalists for forcing onshore drilling offshore, the Sierra Club used Limbaugh's comments to raise $120,000 and 110,000 signatures for climate legislation," contended Costello, who failed to address the substance of the conservative talk show host's argument.
Further hyping the fringe environmental movement and its toxic agenda, Costello noted Clean Energy Works's robust lobbying campaign for "clean energy legislation" and GreenPeace's contest to design a new BP logo, without labeling either of these liberal organizations appropriately.
Back in the studio, co-host John Roberts sensibly stated that America "can't stop drilling because we're not going to stop driving cars." Channeling her inner liberal, Costello would not let her colleague's simple logic deprive her of her wide-eyed optimism: "That's true but will it drive something like climate change legislation? We just don't know yet. That's what environmentalists are hoping."
A full transcript of the segment can be found below:
CAROL COSTELLO, co-host: Coming up next, environmentalists are revitalized and it's over the Gulf oil spill. Could this disaster be what we need in this country to change the way we feel about oil? We'll try to answer that question in a "Gut Check" coming up next. It's 37 minutes past the hour.
JOHN ROBERTS, co-host: 41 minutes after the hour. A growing number of environmentalists are hoping that the oil crisis in the Gulf will change how Americans treat the environment. We've seen that kind of quick reaction after disasters in the past.
COSTELLO: I know, you know, Earth Day was born out of an oil disaster. So we wondered: will people really care? Will it change the way we feel about oil or will it be back to business as usual? A "Gut Check" for you this morning.
It's called Hands Across the Sand. Back in February it drew 10,000 Floridians in protest of offshore drilling. This weekend, Hands says it goes international: 599 American cities will take part, as will 20 countries.
DAVID RAUSCHKOLB, Hands Across the Sand: I believe this is a huge opportunity for us and it's time we take control of our energy future.
COSTELLO: David Rauschkolb hopes Hands will be the catalyst Earth Day was back in 1970. It was born after an oil spill in California and is credited for strengthening the Clean Air Act and helping President Nixon create the Environmental Protection Agency. The Clean Energy Works Campaign has hopes too – its launched an ad campaign pushing for clean energy legislation. GreenPeace is actively using the spill as a catalyst too, its members so intent to do something a contest to design a new BP logo has attracted half a million visitors to its Web site. The Sierra Club site is hot too. When Rush Limbaugh blamed environmentalists for forcing onshore drilling offshore...
RUSH LIMBAUGH, conservative radio host: When do we ask the Sierra Club to pick up the tab for this leak?
COSTELLO:...the Sierra Club used Limbaugh's comments to raise $120,000 and 110,000 signatures for climate legislation.
MICHAEL BRUNE, Sierra Club: This is our chance to actually move beyond oil and the outstanding question – the question that remains – is whether or not President Obama will seize this opportunity and get us off oil once and for all.
COSTELLO: While all the passion sounds good for who critics would call "tree huggers," is it real? Psychologist Jeff Gardere says while oiled birds, dirtied beaches, and black tides will raise awareness, it may not last. After all, there are government regulators already in place who are supposed to prevent disasters like this and didn't. So why bother? Environmentalists get that but say this disaster will cut through the cynicism.
BRUNE: We've set the ocean on fire, we've put thousands of fishermen and women out of work. The coastal tourism economy is collapsing and all of this is happening in slow motion.
COSTELLO: It may be happening in slow motion, but Americans have a complicated relationship with oil, and nowhere is that better demonstrated than in Louisiana – they're angry at BP but they sure don't want the oil industry to go away.
ROBERTS: You're right, there's so many people down there – one side of the family is in the fishing industry or the tourism industry and the other side of the family is in the oil industry. They know that they have to co-exist. I mean, anything that raises awareness of the environment is a good thing, but you know, you've got to have – you can't stop drilling because we're not going to stop driving cars.
COSTELLO: That's true but will it drive something like climate change legislation? We just don't know yet. That's what environmentalists are hoping.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.