Bill Maher ended his HBO show Friday night, Real Time with Bill Maher, with a tirade about supposed efforts by the Bush administration to suppress information about global warming. Picking up on the allegations of NASA's James Hansen who was featured on last Sunday's 60 Minutes, Maher charged that “cowboy” Bush “and his corporate goons at the White House tried to censor Mr. Hansen from delivering” the message that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced within ten years or a disastrous “tipping point” will be reached. Maher then quipped: “This from the crowd that rushed into a war based on an article in The Weekly Standard.” Yes, Hansen was “censored” -- right onto the platform of an entire 60 Minutes segment devoted to his apocalyptic theories.
Maher proceeded to level a serious accusation: “Failing to warn the citizens of a looming weapon of mass destruction -- and that's what global warming is -- in order to protect oil company profits, well that fits for me the definition of treason.” Maher nefariously concluded: “We are letting dying men kill our planet for cash and they're counting on us being too greedy or distracted, or just plain lazy, to stop them. So on this day, the 17th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, let us pause to consider how close we are to making ourselves fossils from the fossil fuels we extract.” (Transcript follows.)
From the end of his live March 24 show at 11pm EST, the full text of Maher's last “New Rule” item, a comedy feature in which he proposes humorous rules to fix a series of things which annoy him and then elaborates on the final topic with two or three minutes of serious commentary sprinkled with a few one-liners:
“And finally, 'New Rule,' nobody can use the phrase 'our greatest problem' anymore unless you're talking about global warming [applause]. President Bush has been saying we're in 'a war on terror' and now I get it: He's not saying 'terror,' he's saying 'terra,' as in terra firma, as in the Earth. George Bush is an alien sent here to destroy the Earth [laughter and applause]. I know it sounds crazy, but it made perfect sense when Tom Cruise explained it to me last week.
“Now last week on 60 Minutes, James Hansen, who is NASA's leading expert on the science of climate, delivered the world's most important message. He said, 'we have to, in the next ten years, begin to decrease the rate of carbon dioxide emissions and then flatten it out.' If that doesn't happen in ten years, we're going to be passing certain tipping points. If the ice sheets begin to disintegrate, what can you do about it? You can't tie a rope around an ice sheet -- although I know a certain cowboy from Crawford who might think you could.
“And that cowboy and his corporate goons at the White House tried to censor Mr. Hansen from delivering that message, claiming such warnings were 'speculative.' This from the crowd that rushed into a war based on an article in The Weekly Standard [applause.] This from the guy who thinks Kyoto is that Japanese Emperor dude his dad threw up on [laughter].
“Global warming is not speculative. It threatens us enough so it should be considered a national security issue. Failing to warn the citizens of a looming weapon of mass destruction -- and that's what global warming is -- in order to protect oil company profits, well that fits for me the definition of treason and codified treason [applause]. The guy in the White House who made the edits was Phil Cooney, who had been an oil industry lobbyist before given this job as head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. That's the office that is supposed to be watching out for us. But that's where Phil busied himself crossing stuff out in scientists' reports because apparently in Phil's mind he hadn't switched jobs. He was just doing his old job -- oil industry lobbyist -- from a different office. You know, in the people's house.
“Republicans have succeeded in making the environment about some tie-died dude from Seattle who lives is a solar-powered yurt and eats twigs. It's not. This issue should be driven by something conservatives are much more familiar with: utter selfishness. That's my motivation. I don't want to live my golden years having to put on a haz-mat suit just to go down and get the mail. Those are my Viagra years [laughter] when I'll be thinking about having children. But I wouldn't know what to tell a kid about our world in twenty years. 'Dad, tell me about the birds and bees.' 'They're all gone, now eat your soylent green.'
“We are letting dying men kill our planet for cash and they're counting on us being too greedy or distracted, or just plain lazy, to stop them. So on this day, the 17th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, let us pause to consider how close we are to making ourselves fossils from the fossil fuels we extract. In the next twenty years, almost a billion Chinese people will be trading in their bicycles for the automobile. Folks, we either get our shit together on this quickly, or we're going to have to go to Plan B: Inventing a car that runs on Chinese people!” [laughter]