Olbermann Rips Palin: From Birther to Climate Change Denier

December 10th, 2009 12:12 PM

"Having given her sleight of hand stamp of approval to the birthers, Sarah Palin is now moving on to an almost equally popular far right mythology, climate change denial."

So began MSNBC's Keith Olbermann in his number one story on Wednesday's "Countdown."

"Getting her facts wrong and misrepresenting her record as governor of Alaska, again, not enough for Palin`s latest foray into opinion piece, this one for 'The Washington Post,'" said Olbermann. "So she went into full-on denial, climate change is all political mode."

The "Countdown" host then brought on the Nation's Chris Hayes who claimed that people who don't believe in manmade global warming are like folks who "argue that 9/11 was an inside job" (video embedded below the fold courtesy our friend Story Balloon, partial transcript with commentary):

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Having given her sleight of hand stamp of approval to the birthers, Sarah Palin is now moving on to an almost equally popular far right mythology, climate change denial. In our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, Sister Sarah goes op-ed, and former vice president and Nobel Peace prize winner Al Gore refers to her, quote, era of unreality.

Stop the tape! 

For the record, this is what Palin wrote at her Facebook page last week:

Voters have every right to ask candidates for information if they so choose. I've pointed out that it was seemingly fair game during the 2008 election for many on the left to badger my doctor and lawyer for proof that Trig is in fact my child. Conspiracy-minded reporters and voters had a right to ask... which they have repeatedly. But at no point - not during the campaign, and not during recent interviews - have I asked the president to produce his birth certificate or suggested that he was not born in the United States.

- Sarah Palin

Is she wrong? Do voters not have that right? Does saying that they do mean that Palin has "given her sleight of hand stamp of approval to the birthers?"

That's absurd, for believing that folks have the right to ask about Obama's birth certificate doesn't mean that you agree he wasn't born in America.

If it does, that means that if you feel folks have the right to believe in any conspiracy theory, you therefore must agree with the theory, correct?

Somehow Olbermann and his ilk miss this:

OLBERMANN: Getting her facts wrong and misrepresenting her record as governor of Alaska, again, not enough for Palin`s latest foray into opinion piece, this one for "The Washington Post." So she went into full-on denial, climate change is all political mode. Referring to the president`s role in the upcoming international climate conference in Copenhagen, quote, "instead of staying home from Copenhagen and sending a message that the United States will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices, the president has upped the ante. He plans to fly in at the climax of the conference in hopes of seeing a deal. What Obama really hopes to bring home from Copenhagen is more pressure to pass the Democrat`s cap and tax proposal. This is a political move. The last thing America needs is a misguided legislation that will raise taxes and cost jobs, particularly when the push for such legislations rests on agenda-driven science. The president should boycott Copenhagen."

Since hackers have uncovered the emails of one climate research unit, which let its ambition for publication lead to massaging of data, change deniers like Palin are crying climate-gate. When our own Andrea Mitchell asked the former vice president about Palin`s claim, Mr. Gore drilled, baby, drilled.


AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Global warming deniers persist in this era of unreality. After all, the entire north polar ice cap, which has been there for most of the last three million years, is disappearing before our eyes. What do they think is causing this?


OLBERMANN: Mr. Gore also cited the long list of other recent tangible effects of climate change, like record storms, droughts, fires. And when asked about Palin`s claim on her Facebook page that these are, quote, doomsday scare tactics pushed by environmental priesthood --

Isn't it interesting how Olbermann and his ilk always castigate global warming skeptics as playing fast and loose with the facts, but never question what Nobel Laureate Al Gore says?

After all, we don't know that there's less sea ice in the Arctic Circle than there's ever been in the last 3 million years. We've only been doing satellite analysis of the region since 1979. 

We also don't know that recent storms, droughts, and wildfires are either worse than has ever happened on the planet before or are caused by man's small increase to atmospheric CO2 since 1750.

As such, Olbermann just proved Palin's point about "environmental priesthood." But I digress:


GORE: The scientific community has worked very intensively for 20 years within this international process. And they now say the evidence unequivocal. a hundred fifty years ago, this year, was the discovery that CO2 traps heat. That is a principle in physics. It`s not a question of debate. It`s like gravity. It exists.


OLBERMANN: Well, now we`re going to bring in gravity, huh? By the way, Sister Sarah, even if all you anti-factualists were right, and climate change is entirely cyclical, not at all man-made, what would be the agenda, as you call it, carried out in its name? As Thomas Friedman noted recently, our nation`s economy would be powered by more energy sources, wind, solar, cleaner biofuels; new electric cars would run on batteries; America would become less dependent on foreign oil dictators; our trade deficit would improve. Agenda-driven insanity, indeed.

Stop the tape!

Once again, Olbermann was employing a strawman issue, for climate realists aren't opposed to the use of alternative energy sources. Instead, they're against government imposing additional taxes and regulations to solve a problem that has yet to be proved exists.

OLBERMANN: Let`s turn now to the Washington editor of "The Nation," Chris Hayes. Chris, good evening.

CHRIS HAYES, "THE NATION": Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Why did "The Washington Post" let us get lectured about science and politics by someone who quit her only state office, and has a pastor who runs these precautionary exorcisms on her so she can stave off witchcraft.

This is astoundingly hypocritical, for if the Post shouldn't print space to Palin, then why are Olbermann and MSNBC spending so much precious air time on her? 

This irony was clearly lost on Keith and his guest:

HAYES: I thought it was a really atrocious decision on the part of "The Washington Post" to run this op-ed. What exactly it contributed to the debate -- there are people like Greg Mankiw, who worked in the Bush White House, an economist at Harvard. He`s a very conservative guy. He strongly opposes the cap and trade. He wants to see a carbon tax. There is a debate to be had.

But to give over your op-ed page to someone who makes, essentially a conspiracy claim, it would be like if they turned it over to someone who wanted to argue that 9/11 was an inside job. "The Washington Post" would never, in a million years, do that and they shouldn`t be doing this.

Hmmm. So, the Post opinion pages shouldn't include views suggesting that people are exploiting a political agenda to receive tax dollars. That might end up significantly reducing the number of submissions!

OLBERMANN: From Mrs. Palin`s point of view, from the GOP point of view, is this at all about getting elected anymore, or is this just kind of political cover for big business? Keeping the country safe from polluters for another hour, another month, another year, whatever it is they can manage?

HAYES: Luckily, they go hand in hand. I actually think what`s motivating Palin -- and you can actually see, she has moved, you know, in the direction of the conspiracy theorists on this issue. What`s motivating her is the fact that the polling on this is really disturbing, because it has become an article of faith among the right wing base that this is a grand socialist conspiracy to usher in state control.

Stop the tape!

This is nonsense, for the polls are showing that people across the entire political spectrum are changing their opinion concerning global warming as Pew reported in October: 

The decline in the belief in solid evidence of global warming has come across the political spectrum, but has been particularly pronounced among independents. Just 53% of independents now see solid evidence of global warming, compared with 75% who did so in April 2008. Republicans, who already were highly skeptical of the evidence of global warming, have become even more so: just 35% of Republicans now see solid evidence of rising global temperatures, down from 49% in 2008 and 62% in 2007. Fewer Democrats also express this view - 75% today compared with 83% last year. 

As such, Hayes was basically making stuff up:

HAYES: So I think she`s really, as she is want to do, pandering to that base right now. I think what`s driving that kind of op-ed, more than any kind of business shilling, is the fact that it has become one of these issues, like the birth certificate, that you can sort of win points with the base with.

OLBERMANN: And by the way, the video we`re seeing right now, that was taken in July in Washington, D.C. All right, that`s -- bad joke, I`m sorry. But let`s put all these points together now about the predilections of the far right and what they believe and what they don`t. What is the Palin explanation for polar ice melting, which she acknowledges. If it is witchcraft, why has she not sent Pastor Moothy (ph) to fix it. A slightly more serious version of that, and if this is not man-made, if it is part of the right-wing agenda, if it all should be theocratically interpreted, if it`s all in God`s hands, how come Sister Sarah, with her direct line to God, has not instructed God to fix this?

HAYES: You know, what`s really interesting about this op-ed is that it`s not even internally logically consistent conspiracy mongering. There are two alternate theories of the conspiracy the denialists make. One is, yes, the world is warming, but it is not caused by humans. The other, the science that says the world is warming is fake and part of the conspiracy. And she endorses both. It cannot, those both cannot obtain.

What? These are mutually exclusive? Why?

After all, climate realists don't deny that temperatures have been rising since the end of the Little Ice Age. They just don't believe increases in CO2 are largely the cause as do global warming advocates.

On top of this, many realists believe the actual increase has been exaggerated by a number of factors including data massaging and poor collection techniques at the 1,221 weather stations across the country.

With this in mind, despite Olbermann's snickering, what Hayes said concerning this was absurd and showed an alarming ignorance concerning the matter: 

HAYES: The fact of the matter is, she governs the one state in the union that is most immediately seeing the effects of climate change. The permafrost is actually melting. There are houses that have cracked because of it in the state of Alaska. And because of that, she was forced to kind of acknowledge the fact that warming is happening. She can`t have it both ways.

And the editors of "The Washington Post" didn`t see fit to make any kind of intervention, to at least have a logically consistent piece of work on their pages.

OLBERMANN: Which brings up the idea of an end game for the GOP and Palin. What is the end game? Let`s say they are 100 percent right, that climate-gate exists, that this is a scam, that changes in climate are natural. Do they have a plan for how to keep the government together, to criminalize abortion during the rapture and the upcoming ice age and/or universal sweat lodge, whichever comes first?

HAYES: You know, I don`t know what the right-wing government`s plan is. But I will say, on an extremely serious note, that this -- you know, we`ve talked about this in a million different ways -- and Al Gore -- and there are a lot of messengers who are better at this than I am. But it`s hard to over-state the stakes right now, in Copenhagen, in the climate change legislation moving through Congress. We are at a sort of pivotal moment in the fate of the Earth, but also as a test of the moral fabric of American democracy. And history is going to look extremely, extremely unkindly on this op-ed and the people that are using their platform to sort of propagate this very monstrous deception.

Once again, what was that Palin said about an "environmental priesthood?"