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The 5 Worst Climate Change Truthers In Congress

Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has taken tremendous strides toward combating climate change and the dangers that it poses. But he hasn’t gotten much help from Congress — and now that Republicans hold majority control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, he probably never will.

Although scientists overwhelmingly agree that human activity has caused the climate to rapidly warm over the past century, the majority of congressional Republicans flatly deny the facts.

Here are five of the most notable climate truthers in the 114th Congress:

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)
Rep. Smith, a 14-term Republican from Texas, currently serves as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He is also an outspoken climate change truther who seems to believe that scientists and the liberal media are teaming up to mislead Americans about the threat. In November, Smith shrugged off a frightening United Nations report on climate change as “clearly biased,” before acknowledging that he didn’t actually read it.

Despite not having faced a competitive election in nearly two decades, Smith has raised more than $600,000 from the oil and gas industry throughout his career — including $112,050 in the last election cycle alone.

Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX)
Rep. Weber, chairman of the House Subcommitee on Energy, is a relative newcomer to Congress; he was elected to succeed Rep. Ron Paul in 2012. But he’s quickly become known for his strident refusal to accept the facts on climate change. Most notably, Weber attempted to ridicule White House science advisor John Holdren during a hearing last March, and ended up making a fool of himself.

Weber — who, ironically, owns an air conditioning company — is a favorite of the oil and gas industry; it donated $87,250 to him in the last election cycle, nearly double the total he raised from any other industry.

Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Senator Cory Gardner moved up from the House in 2014, when he defeated environmentalist Democrat Mark Udall in a significant upset. Along the way, he refused to answer questions about climate change — a strategy that actually represented a minor step forward from his previous insistence that “I don’t believe humans are causing that change.”

Gardner currently sits on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, along with the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources — which helps to explain why the oil and gas industry contributed $658,049 to his campaign, second to only Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) among House members.

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman Jim Inhofe is one of the world’s most outspoken climate change deniers. During his tenure in Congress, Inhofe has described global warming as the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” compared Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, insisted that climate change is impossible because “God’s still up there,” and attempted to disprove the scientific consensus with a snowball, among other incidents.

Unsurprisingly, Inhofe is also beloved by the oil and gas industry; it contributed $576,250 to him in 2014, and nearly $2 million throughout his career — easily the highest total of any industry.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Senator Cruz chairs the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, which oversees NASA and the National Science Foundation, among other responsibilities.

This is very bad news for NASA and the National Science Foundation, given Cruz’s proud hostility to science. The newly minted presidential candidate is under the mistaken impression that global warming ceased in 1997, and that cold weather disproves climate change altogether. He also appears to believe that his ignorance on the topic makes him a modern-day Galileo.

Over Cruz’s brief four-year career as a federal candidate, he has raised a whopping $1,086,368 from the oil and gas industry.

Photo: CSIS: Center for Strategic & International Studies via Flickr

Republican Gardner Elected To Senate From Colorado, Unseating Udall

By Kurtis Lee, Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican, swept to victory in Colorado’s much-watched U.S. Senate race, the Associated Press projected, defeating first-term incumbent Democrat Mark Udall after a furious campaign that drew a blizzard of money from candidates, parties and deep-pocketed outside groups.

As much as any other in the country, the race featured Democrats’ argument that Republicans were engaged in a war on women with their views on contraception, abortion rights and personhood measures. Gardner attempted to blunt the assault by reversing his views on “personhood” measures — which hold that human rights begin at conception — and calling for over-the counter dispensing of birth-control pills.

But, like other Republicans across the country, he also assailed the incumbent as an ally of President Barack Obama, whose popularity has fallen despite two successive wins in Colorado in presidential years.

For several months, polls had shown the Senate race mostly tied.

Udall, who was seeking a second term, framed the contest primarily on issues surrounding women’s reproductive rights in an effort to appeal to female voters from Arapahoe and Jefferson counties in Denver’s suburbs. He pushed the issues so hard that he lost the endorsement of the Denver Post, which dubbed him “Mark Uterus.” But Tuesday’s results showed Udall’s message falling short.

Jefferson and Arapahoe counties are demonstrative of the increasingly large and somewhat unpredictable impact that unaffiliated voters have on Colorado elections. The state is divided almost evenly into thirds between Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters.

Many political observers have thought the state was transforming from a purple toss-up to more blue, especially after Obama won the state in 2008 and 2012. But strong statewide discontent with Obama gave Colorado Republicans confidence.

“This is about going forward, not backward, and that’s where my opponent wants to take us, backward,” Udall, the son of former Rep. Morris Udall of Arizona, said Tuesday in his final campaign appearance, this one at the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver.

Gardner mostly remained out of the spotlight Tuesday, holding a pair of honk-and-waves with Republicans and spending time with his wife and three children. He gave up a safe House seat in eastern Colorado to challenge Udall.

Colorado’s race for governor was also competitive, with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper seeking to stave off a challenge from former Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez.

Contentious battles over gun control in 2013 and renewable energy gave Republicans ammunition to attack Hickenlooper and Democrats as overplaying their hand.

Hickenlooper has touted his work in lowering Colorado’s jobless rate, as well as the job his administration did helping open dozens of roads after last year’s epic flooding.

“We made a lot of tough decisions in these past few years and I’m proud of the work we’ve done,” Hickenlooper said Tuesday.

AFP Photo/Ivan Couronne

WATCH: Democrats Won’t Let Gardner Retreat On Birth Control

When U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) launched his challenge to incumbent Democratic senator Mark Udall, one of his first moves was backtracking on his support for fetal personhood, which would ban abortion and outlaw some forms of birth control and emergency contraception.

“This was a bad idea driven by good intentions,” Gardner told The Denver Post in March. “I was not right. I can’t support personhood now. I can’t support personhood going forward…The fact that it restricts contraception, it was not the right position.”

As the general election draws nearer, Gardner is getting even more vocal about contraception. Last week, his campaign released an ad in which the congressman touts the virtues of making birth control pills available over the counter, while an audience of women smiles, nods, and applauds.

Gardner’s motives aren’t tough to divine. Female voters will likely make the difference in Colorado’s tight Senate race, and polls have consistently shown Udall ahead among women. Furthermore, according to an NBC News/Marist poll released Sunday, 59 percent of voters are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports restrictions on the use of contraception, while just 14 percent would be more likely. In short: Unless Gardner convinces voters that he’s had a genuine change of heart, he’s in deep trouble.

Democrats, of course, know this as well. That’s why on Monday, two Democratic groups released new ads attacking Gardner’s record on women’s health.

The first ad, from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, criticizes Gardner’s support for abortion bans, noting that “Cory Gardner sponsored a law which would have made it a class three felony to perform an abortion.”

The second, from MoveOn.org and NARAL Pro-Choice America, critizes Gardner’s birth control plan.

“Last year Gardner sponsored a federal personhood bill that could outlaw some of the most effective and reliable forms of contraception,” the ad’s female narrator says. “And Gardner’s new plan could cost women $600 a year in out-of-pocket medical costs.”

While Gardner has taken the most heat from Democrats, he is not the only Republican Senate candidate to try to attract female voters by backing over-the-counter contraception. Minnesota’s Mike McFadden, North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, and Virginia’s Ed Gillespie have all pushed similar messages.

It probably won’t work. After all, the Republican candidates are still on record as fiercely opposing the Affordable Care Act, which mandates that private insurance plans cover some contraceptive costs. All four also spoke out in favor of the Supreme Court’s controversial Hobby Lobby decision, which greatly expanded corporations’ ability to circumvent the contraception mandate. And, most important, women are likely to recognize that — while the new Republican plan is better than nothing — offering birth control over the counter without continuing to compel insurance companies to pay for it would be a bad deal for them.

More Republicans will likely adopt the Gardner position, in an effort to blunt claims of a GOP “war on women.” But as Monday’s ads show, Democrats won’t let the flip-flops go unnoticed.

Screenshot: MoveOn.org/YouTube

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Poll Roundup: Colorado Senate Race Is A ‘Nail Biter’ Leading Up To First Debate

As the 2014 midterm elections draw closer, pollsters across the country will begin releasing masses of data and their predictions of who will control the House of Representatives, the Senate, and statehouses across the country. We’ll put those predictions in focus and provide a brief summary of key polls. Here’s our roundup from the week of August 31:

Colorado

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey, released on Friday, describes the Colorado Senate race as “nail-biter.” Democratic incumbent Mark Udall leads by 2 points, with 44 percent of the vote. Republican challenger Cory Gardner has 42 percent. The candidates are well within the poll’s +/- 4 percent margin of error.

Gardner is attempting to win the support of women by supporting over-the-counter birth control, even though in the past he’s backed fetal personhood bills that would have restricted some types of birth control. Udall has used this and Gardner’s support for other abortion restrictions against him in the past.

The two candidates have their first debate this Saturday. Political analyst Eric Sondermann told KDVR.com that Gardner needs to “come across as credible and reasonable. In tone as well as substance, he needs to put to rest the notion that his views are scary or somehow outside the Colorado mainstream.”

But Udall, like many other Democratic candidates, has to fight against President Obama’s low approval numbers. “This debate offers an opportunity for him to do the hard work of putting some distance between himself and the Obama-led Democratic establishment in Washington,” Sondermann said.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Udall ahead by 1.3 percent.

Kentucky

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be holding on to his lead over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. A CNN/ORC poll released on Wednesday finds that 50 percent of likely voters plan on voting for McConnell, while 46 percent support Grimes, 2 percent support neither, 1 percent would vote for another candidate, and 1 percent have no opinion. When asked if there was a chance they would change their vote, 77 percent said they had “made up” their mind, while 19 percent said there was chance they could change, and 4 percent had no opinion.

Among registered voters, the race is a little closer — 47 percent said they would vote for McConnell, 46 percent for Grimes, 5 percent for neither, 1 percent for another candidate, and 2 percent have no opinion. When asked how confident they were in their decision, 68 percent said their mind was “made up,” 24 percent said there was a chance that they could change their mind, and 8 percent had no opinion.

The poll has a +/- 3 percent margin of error. It shows McConnell leading among men and white voters, while Grimes has the support of women, including white women.

In a Rasmussen Reports survey, also released on Wednesday, McConnell leads Grimes by 5 percent. Among likely voters, 46 percent support McConnell, 41 percent support Grimes, 7 percent like another candidate, and 6 percent are undecided. The poll has a +/- 4 percent margin of error.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has McConnell ahead by 3.2 points.

Florida

A Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll released on Tuesday shows Republican governor Rick Scott ahead of Democratic challenger Charlie Crist by 5 percent, and “finds Florida voters mostly optimistic about the state’s economic direction but decidedly sour on their gubernatorial choices.”

Among voters surveyed, 40.9 percent would vote for Scott, 35.7 percent for Crist, and 6.3 percent for Libertarian Adrian Wyllie. When Wyllie was taken off the ballot, 43.7 percent supported Scott and 37.6 supported Crist.

Voters don’t think that either Crist or Scott is honest and ethical.

“This is not a case in which we’ve got two gubernatorial candidates who are captivating voters by their integrity and their leadership,” David Colburn, interim director of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, said. “The voters are troubled by these candidates, and it seems to be anything can happen over the last two months.”

But 48.7 percent of voters think that Florida’s economy is recovering, and 25.2 percent said that it will recover soon. Most voters, 7 in 10, said that the governor “can do a lot” about the economy.

“If I were Rick Scott, I’d be playing up the economy as he has been. I would take this poll result and I would run with it,” Christopher McCarty, director of the UF Survey Research Center said.

The poll’s authors also said that Crist should “try and debunk Scott’s efforts to take credit for Florida’s improving economy.”

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Scott ahead by 1.7 points.

Wisconsin

A We Ask America poll released on Thursday shows Democrat Mary Burke ahead of Republican governor Scott Walker by 4 percent. Among likely voters, 48 percent support Burke, 44 percent would vote for Walker, 2 percent would vote for a third party, and 6 percent were undecided. The poll has a +/- 3 percent margin of error.

The poll authors point out that “Burke doesn’t provide the same type of easy contrast that Walker was able to use in the past against his opponents.” Walker has to deal with the consequences of his actions as governor — including his job-creation promises, on which he “fell short.”

Burke has to overcome her business career at TREK bicycle, where some have called her an outsourcer for sending jobs to China. President Obama also has a negative approval rating in Wisconsin, which could hurt Burke’s chances.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Burke ahead by 1 point.

Georgia

A WRBL/Ledger-Enquirer/PMB poll released on Tuesday shows Democrat Michelle Nunn only slightly ahead of Republican David Perdue in the Georgia Senate race. Nunn has 44.74 percent of the vote, while Perdue has 43.09 percent of the vote. The candidates are within the poll’s +/- 2.47 percent margin of error.

GaPundit.com editor Todd Ruhm told WRBL that this election will be heavily affected by gender.

“Michelle Nunn does poll better among women,” he said. “Her campaign is designed to do better among women. She was chosen and promoted partly to do better among women.”

Rehn thinks that Nunn will benefit from the fact that more women turn out to vote than men.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Perdue ahead by 1.7 points.

Screenshot: Cory Gardner for Senate/YouTube

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