South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is just trying to keep it real.
Following a Monday speech at the Council of Foreign Relations, Graham was asked whether Republicans in Congress could partner with Democrats to deal with the issue of climate change. In response, the potential presidential candidate said that a bipartisan response to the problem would have to wait until his fellow Republicans agree that there was a problem in the first place.
"You know, when it comes to climate change being real, people of my party are all over the board," Graham said. "I said that it's real, that man has contributed to it in a substantial way."
As demonstrated by the many show votes for amendments to the Keystone XL Pipeline project, several Republicans in the Senate still do not endorse the concept of global warming, let alone that mankind has had a role in escalating it. Still, Graham was not content to lay the blame for inaction solely at the feet of his GOP colleagues.
"But the problem is, Al Gore's turned this thing into religion," Graham continued. "You know, climate change is not a religious problem for me. It's an economic, it is an environmental problem."
Gore's 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truthhelped educate many Americans about the threat of increased levels of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere, and quickly became a political target for conservatives. Last week, Gore suggested that elected officials who deny the existence of global warming should be made to pay apolitical price.
There's little doubt that climate change has devolved into a partisan issue, culminating last month with the spectacle of Senator James Inhofe, who chairs the Committee on Environment and Public Works, tossing a snowball on the Senate floor as his evidence that climate change is a hoax.
Though Graham did not mention any of his GOP colleagues by name, he did say that his party needs to reconsider its views of climate change.
"I think the Republican Party has to do some soul searching. Before we can be bipartisan, we've got to figure out where we are as a party," he said. "What is the environmental platform of the Republican Party? I don't know, either."
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