NOW examines the powerful forces at work to prevent the U.S. from ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty limiting the production of greenhouse gases most mainstream scientists believe is behind global warming.
Bill Moyers talks to David Keene, chairman of the 31st Annual CPAC about what conservatives think about the deficit, immigration, and civil liberties. Amidst an armada of pollsters and pundits in New Hampshire, David Brancaccio gets an on-the-ground view from the principal of Maple Avenue Elementary School in Goffstown to find out how relevant the politics of the presidential campaign is to the lives of individual citizens. And Bill Moyers with an essay on Howard Dean’s infamous Iowa speech.
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BRANCACCIO: Welcome to NOW.
The political landscape shifted this week for Democrats vying for the presidency. We’ll go to New Hampshire in a few minutes to talk to a voter who sees the issues from ground level.
But there was also news this week on the Republican side.
MOYERS: There most certainly was. In his State of the Union address, President Bush gave us a preview of his re-election campaign. He got 29 standing ovations. But behind the scenes, some conservatives were grumbling about the soaring federal deficits and the President’s failure to confront them.
Just a day after his speech, 40 members of Congress — all Republicans — held a strategy session to find ways to get the administration and their congressional leadership to face the red ink.
On its Web site, the conservative Heritage Foundation warned about these runaway budgets, saying government spending has increased twice as fast under President Bush as under President Clinton.
With all this going on, it shouldn’t surprise you that there was a lot of advice for the President this week at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
While the exhibitors set up their displays and the talk radio hosts broadcast their drive time shows—
TALK SHOW HOST: Do you like the idea of having rights the government can’t take away?
MOYERS: Thousands of conservative activists streamed into Arlington, Virginia for the 31st Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.
College students came from around the country…
STUDENT: We’re definitely in the minority at our college —
MOYERS: Veteran activists —
ACTIVIST: Very much a fan of Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan —
MOYERS: And long-time stalwarts —
After Barry Goldwater’s defeat in 1964 and the resignations of Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon in the 70’s, CPAC helped to resurrect the Republican party, with grassroots activism, determination, and Ronald Reagan.
The reward: control of the White House and Congress today.
But the conservative revolution is heading into middle age and new complexities. Traditional conservatives argue now over key questions.
For example: can Homeland Security and civil liberties coexist?
Former Republican congressman Bob Barr of Georgia is now working not just with the American Conservative Union, but also the American Civil Liberties Union.
BARR: The direction the party at the national level seems to be going in is to have more and more power to the government to find out more and more about individual law abiding citizens, less and less privacy.
MOYERS: But others here say fighting terror is the first priority.
COCHRAN: If you don’t have a safe country, you don’t have a place to have civil liberties.
MOYERS: Elizabeth Cochran’s business was inspired by George Bush’s handling of 9/11.
COCHRAN: And I think it’s much more important to worry about the safety of our country right now.
MOYERS: Brandon Swalley, an activist from Washington state, is angry about security procedures at airports. She says the government should simply focus on the real threat and it’s not people who look like her.
SWALLEY: I don’t think that little old ladies in wheelchairs, and little blonde petite people from Seattle need to take their shoes off.
MOYERS: The big discussion at the conference this week, as it was across the Potomac River in Washington D.C., was about the growth of government spending.
Six conservative watchdog groups have joined to rebuke the administration, charging that Bush isn’t even doing as well as Bill Clinton, and isn’t close to living up to Ronald Reagan’s example.
SCHATZ: Unless the administration pays more attention and stops the massive increases we’ve seen over the last several years, there may be some consequences down the road for the party.
SEPP: The Bush administration deserves very high marks for cutting taxes. Unfortunately when it comes to cutting spending or even keeping it under control, the marks would be a lot lower, probably an F grade at this point.
BARR: I do worry that at least on fiscal matters at the national level the party seems to be going in the direction of becoming a sort of Democrat-lite party in terms of federal spending. And I think that’s very dangerous for the long term strength of the Conservative movement and certainly for the Republican Party.
MOYERS: Richard Armey spent six years as the Republicans’ majority leader in the house.
ARMEY: Conservatives can get disillusioned, they can get disconcerted, and they can stay home. One hundred percent of the Democrat vote will be out for the presidential election. President Bush cannot afford to have any percentage of his vote stay home, and that’s where, if he loses the election, and I don’t think he will, it’ll be because some of his vote stays home.
MOYERS: Joining me now to talk more about the conservative agenda is David Keene. He’s the chairman of the American Conservative Union, the largest grassroots conservative organization in the country.
He also writes a regular column for THE HILL, a newspaper that covers Congress, and he’s a lobbyist in Washington. Welcome to NOW.
KEENE: It’s a pleasure to be with you.
MOYERS: David, I’ve known you for over 20 years now. I’ve seen you become a major figure in the conservative movement that now governs Washington. And I’m confused. What’s happened to the conservative belief in a small and limited government?
KEENE: It’s intact, Bill. Most conservatives believe today as they did in the past that the primary reason for their involvement in politics is to make certain that government keeps its hands off them, keeps its hands out of their pockets. The problem that we have is that with the Republican Party in control of the Congress and in the White House, that there’s a tendency to do the same thing that the Democrats did when they were in power.
MOYERS: When I watched the State of the Union message earlier this week I thought Lyndon Johnson had come back disguised as George W. Bush. I mean, this man really believes in using the government and to spend money to expand the powers of government.
KEENE: Well, I think to be fair to Bush, he’s of split mind on all this, Bill. He, like a lot of Presidents, once they get in decide that it’s their government and they ought to do this, that and the other thing. And they forget about the costs that are involved. On the other hand, when you press him, and even in the State of the Union, he says we need to do something about spending.
The question is will he do it? And what conservatives have been trying to do is remind the President and the Congress that the basic tenets of the philosophy that got them into office require reining in government, not unleashing it. We’re not here to act like Lyndon Johnson. We’re here to act more like Ronald Reagan.
MOYERS: He wants to send a man to Mars and spend $500 billion on it. He wants to spend $1.5 billion to promote marriage. He wants to spend $200 million to fight obesity. He’s creating trillions of dollars in unfunded liability with his new Medicare provision. I mean, when Republicans, as you said, were in the minority they used to ridicule Democrats for that kind of spending. Now they’re for it.
KEENE: Well, now we ridicule Republicans for that kind of spending, Bill. No, the fact is that, you know, people are people and politicians are politicians. And if you remember back to the Nixon campaign in 1968, Richard Nixon ran and one of the programs that he condemned most soundly was the Food Stamp Program.
1972 rolled around and he ran ads talking about he’d done more to expand the Food Stamp Program than any other President.
MOYERS: One of your conservative colleagues, Stephen Moore of the Conservative Club for Growth, says that the Bush state of the union has become a state of dependency and a state of entitlement. And Paul Weyrich, another one of the founders with you of the Conservative Movement, says profligate spending by the Republicans in Congress is twice the rate under Bill Clinton.
KEENE: That’s not an opinion, Bill. That’s a fact.
MOYERS: That’s a fact.
KEENE: Non-defense discretionary spending under Clinton was going up at about 2 1/2 percent. And under Bush it’s been going up roughly twice that. And I think that the Republicans, unless they want to lose definition, the definition of their party and what they mean to the base out there that supports them in election after election, have to come to grips with the fact that they are letting that definition be eroded by acts that they would never contemplate were they looking at somebody else doing it.
MOYERS: Paul Weyrich says that if the President doesn’t veto the big budget buster passed this week by Republicans, conservative core voters are not going to work for his re-election. They might not even vote, says Weyrich. Can you imagine any circumstance under which you would not vote for George W. Bush’s re-election?
KEENE: I can imagine such circumstances. But it’d be very difficult. I think that in spite of any disagreements I have with the President, I think he’s doing a pretty good job. There are some things I’d like to change. And, you know, if you’re involved in the kind of politics that we’re involved in now, your job is make certain that your own team does what it needs to be doing.
About 30 years or so ago, Bill, the sociologist Sam LeBelle, wrote that the real debates in our country historically have not taken place between the parties but within the majority or governing coalition. And I think that’s why you’ve got this kind of debate going on within the Republican Party. That’s the important debate.
And the outcome of that debate is gonna determine where this country, where the Republican Party, where the conservatives are gonna go. I’m involved in that debate. And I think that the philosophy, the standards and the principles that brought us this far are what we ought to stick by.
MOYERS: Do you think deep tax cuts and massive spending like this can co-exist indefinitely?
KEENE: No, I think that tax cuts obviously as we’ve seen time after time after time do generate economic growth. That’s to the good and that does increase government revenues. But you can’t, over a long period of time continue to cut taxes and continue to increase spending because it just doesn’t work.
And the President and the Republican leadership in Congress has to come to grips with the fact that if we are, in fact, the small government party then we have an obligation to act like the small government party and to do what we can to reduce spending. And I think that there’s a lot that can be done if Republican leaders in Congress and the White House have the courage to do it.
MOYERS: What would happen if you asked conservatives at your meeting to pass a resolution calling on President Bush to veto this budget-busting bill that was passed this week?
KEENE: Well, the message from this meeting this week, where we have about 4,000 conservatives from around the country, these are the people that are the President’s base, is that, by golly, it’s time to do something about government spending. And we are, in fact, demanding that something be done.
As Congressman Mike Pence from Indiana said in the keynote to our convention, “When the ship starts to veer off-course or drift off-course the crew ought to alert the captain that they sense that there’s something wrong so that he can make corrections.” This crew’s been alerting the captain. And I think there’s evidence that the captain’s beginning to listen.
MOYERS: But Dick Cheney, Vice-President Cheney, got standing ovations yesterday when he addressed your meeting. And he never mentioned deficit. I mean, is there —
KEENE: I wouldn’t have either if I were him.
MOYERS: Nor would I. But does hypocrisy get a pass?
KEENE: No, that’s not a — I mean, you know, if you’re a politician and you come to a convention, you talk about the things that you agree with the folks in the audience about. You don’t come and talk about the things that you disagree.
Dick Cheney knows full well that we’ve got a lot of questions and a lot of criticisms about the spending levels that have been tolerated by this administration. But I don’t think he came here to talk about our differences. I think he came here to talk about the things that we agree on. And on most things, frankly, Bill, we do agree.
MOYERS: What, in essence, defines a conservative today?
KEENE: I think I’ll go back to what Mike Pence said in opening this conference this week. We talked about the conservative desire for a smaller and limited government. A government that doesn’t tax people to death, a government that doesn’t regulate them to death, a government that doesn’t spend money that doesn’t exist.
We talked about the fact that conservatives believe in a strong defense, believe in being able to defend our population and in traditional values that conservatives have historically stood for. And Mike put it very effectively. He said, “If you don’t believe in those things you can be our friend, you can be our ally. We’ll work with you. But you don’t have the right to stand up and call yourself a conservative.”
MOYERS: But, David, I have to come back to this. George W. Bush is spending non-existent money faster than anybody in modern times. He’s expanding the power of the state with not just homeland security and the war of terror abroad but with one extension of domestic agency after another. I mean, do you really consider him a core conservative?
KEENE: We consider Bush to be a conservative who’s allowed the ship to drift a little bit off-course. And we’re yelling to get it back on-course and I think we will. You know, the jury, in a sense, is out.
When we go back to the beginning of the Bush Administration, the things that conservatives are most upset about and have been most upset about, Bill, were the Education Bill. George Bush started and proposed an education bill that most conservatives liked. By the time it worked its way through Congress, Republicans in Congress and the President had compromised to the extent that when it was signed you had a smiling Teddy Kennedy standing next to the President at the signing because it was more a Democratic bill than a Republican bill.
He allowed the farm program to be expanded greatly beyond where we thought it should be and spent a lot of money that we didn’t think needed to be spent. He started out making a pretty good proposal to the Congress on prescription drugs. And ended up with something gargantuan that nobody on the Republican or conservative side had expected at the outset.
The problem here has not been the President’s intentions in my view. The problem has been that when it comes to the crunch that this administration has not fought and asked its people on the Hill to fight against the kinds of compromise that can destroy the best of intentions.
I think that what we need to do is get this President — goodness, we’d have to do it with any President, Republican or Democrat, and it’s one of the things that conservatives have fought for over the years — get this President to exercise restraint and to exercise courage in going in and fighting the kind of spending that Congress is all too often willing to add on to any bill. And while it’s a Republican Congress today, it could be a Democratic Congress tomorrow and it was yesterday. And they all act in the same manner. It’s why we’ve always had a problem with government spending.
MOYERS: I saw in this bill, with its thousands of what they call add-ons, I saw a $50 million item for a fake rainforest in Iowa sponsored by a Republican Senator, a former Republican governor and a former Republican state party chairman. And I thought, “That’s not the Conservative Party that Bourke Hickenlooper and others I used to know from Iowa used to tell me about.”
KEENE: That’s right. And, Bill, let me make something clear. We’re not just looking at it as some people do as a balance sheet. Government spending is bad for a lot of reasons. You have the deficit problem and the problem that you’re gonna put that– the debt you create onto the backs of future generations.
You have the fact that government spending sucks money out of the private sector and can be an economic drag. But the real reason conservatives have viewed higher taxes and higher spending as a negative that ought to be opposed is that higher taxes deprive working people of the freedom to spend their own money in ways that they want to spend it.
Greater government spending displaces private individual choice. The real goal of conservatism is to expand the sphere of the individual. Individual freedom has been at the heart of our philosophy. And our objection to big government is not just that it doesn’t work, though Lord knows it doesn’t.
It’s not just that it’s wasteful, though Lord knows it is. Our objection to big government is that it crowds out the freedom on which innovation and the and people depend for the quality of their life. That’s why we object to it. So it’s so when we talk about economic considerations I just urge that you remember that our feeling is that there’s a lot more to this than simply the economics.
MOYERS: Did you tell that to Dick Cheney yesterday?
KEENE: We didn’t discuss that. But we’ve discussed it in the past.
MOYERS: All right. By the way, I see that Ann Coulter is one of your main speakers. Do you agree with her that liberals are traitors?
KEENE: No, Ann gets a little carried away sometimes, Bill. You’re not a traitor. You’re just wrong.
MOYERS: Thank you for being on the show David Keene of the American Conservative Union.
KEENE: Okay. Thanks.
ANNOUNCER: There’s more to come on NOW—
David Brancaccio asks what’s really on people’s minds in small-town New Hampshire.
BRANCACCIO: How are we doing? Are there enough jobs? Where do we stand, economically?
One of the items on the agenda tomorrow at that conservative conference is a discussion entitled: “Globaloney and Global Warming.” “Globaloney.” That’s a good one.
Big energy companies are working to debunk the science of global warming, despite what is now a consensus within the mainstream scientific community that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are changing our climate.
According to a new computer analysis by a team of international scientists, in 50 years, a quarter of the world’s plants and animals could be pushed to extinction. But for big American energy companies, it all comes down to dollars and cents. They say caps on carbon dioxide emissions will have a devastating impact on their bottom line and the rest of the economy.
Their lobbyists were front and center last month in Milan, Italy at an International Conference on Global Warming. Senior Washington correspondent Roberta Baskin and producer Bryan Myers have our report.
BASKIN: It wouldn’t be Milan without a fashion show.
But this isn’t the House of Versace. It’s a United Nations conference on global warming — this one just last month. And a party is a good way to keep the delegates happy.
But don’t be misled. What’s going on in Milan is of vital importance to the world.
Mainstream scientists point to rapid melting of polar ice caps as one of many signs that greenhouse gases are causing an unnatural and potentially dangerous warming of the earth’s atmosphere. As a result, they predict, temperatures will rise more rapidly in the next hundred years than in the past ten thousand.
Extremes in weather like severe droughts and flash floods are expected to become more common and more intense. Radical weather patterns could threaten our food supply and water systems. What should be done about global warming is at the core of the climate change debate. The focus has been on “greenhouse gases” created by burning oil and coal.
Six years ago, world leaders signed the Kyoto Protocol, agreeing in principle to limit production of greenhouse gases. Most of the world’s nations support the treaty—and sent representatives to Milan to move forward on the agreement.
But guess who else turned up at the global warming conference? Swarms of energy industry executives and lobbyists, with a very different agenda. There is a concerted effort by the industry to derail adoption of the Kyoto Protocol— a well-heeled, well-organized lobbying effort bent on stopping it from ever becoming a reality.
Meet Dale Heydlauff, senior vice president of American Electric Power, the largest electric company in America. His reasons for opposing Kyoto are economic.
Most of the world supports the Kyoto Protocol. The energy industry is opposed to it. Why?
HEYDLAUFF: Primarily because of the fact that the energy industry is predominantly fossil fuels. And there will be significant economic impacts to American industry in particular.
BASKIN: Heydlauff says the Kyoto treaty would be costly to American consumers, by making energy more expensive. And, he argues that the treaty’s language discriminates against America and other developed countries.
HEYDLAUFF: Because the Kyoto Protocol only imposes legally binding obligations on the 38 industrial nations of the world and exempts the 132 plus developing countries.
BASKIN: Annie Petsonk has been following the global warming debate for the mainstream environmental organization, Environmental Sefense. She says what industry is really afraid of is losing profits and that it has a coordinated plan to prevent the treaty’s passage.
PETSONK: America’s policy on global warming is being set by a limited set of energy companies. Mainly ones whose approach to global warming is to deny, and delay, and debunk.
BASKIN: Petsonk, an attorney, helped develop climate policy for two presidents who supported limits on greenhouse gasses: Bill Clinton and the first George Bush. Now she’s here trying to convince delegates to ratify Kyoto.
She’s up against some powerful opponents.
PETSONK: If you’re a large oil company and you’re concerned that a treaty on climate change, to limit greenhouse pollution might encourage consumers to drive more efficient cars, use more efficient light bulbs, maybe use a little less electricity you’d have an incentive to spend a fair amount of money trying to stop that treaty.
BASKIN: Oil companies won’t reveal just how much they are spending, but it runs into tens of millions of dollars.
Representatives of the oil, coal, and electric industries are all in Milan to spread their gospel. But there’s one person here who’s credited with doing more to advance industry’s agenda than any other. His name is Don Pearlman, and he’s been called “the high priest of the carbon club.”
Pearlman heads an organization with a name that makes it seem a neutral party — The Climate Council. The group won’t say who funds it. Critics say it’s a secretive front group for the energy industry. We tried to talk with Pearlman about The Climate Council, but he would only say that it’s “a coalition of U.S. energy companies.” Pearlman’s a fixture at these annual meetings, ostensibly as an observer. But in Washington, he’s a registered lobbyist and acts like one here. He’s constantly working the floor.
PETSONK: I personally saw an event a couple of years ago where Mr. Pearlman actually put written instructions under the nose of an OPEC delegate who was actually snoozing. And Mr. Pearlman went in and woke him up and said, “You’ve got to read this. It’s time to read it now in a meeting.”
BASKIN: UN officials were concerned enough over that episode that afterwards, they took action to prevent it from happening again, instituting a policy to prevent lobbyists from approaching delegates on the floor during negotiating sessions.
BASKIN: It’s like the unofficial Pearlman rule?
PETSONK: Yes, there are many people who actually speak of it as the Pearlman rule.
BASKIN: Here’s Pearlman in deep conversation with a member of the Saudi delegation. Pearlman spends a lot of his time with OPEC countries, none of whom have ratified the treaty. Since the Kyoto Protocol is all about fossil fuels, they’re key players here. Later, the Saudi delegate told us he and Pearlman were simply “exchanging pleasantries.”
Considered an expert at manipulating the rules to stall the talks, Pearlman seems to be everywhere at once.
PETSONK: Both today and yesterday I talked to negotiators who told me that in the meetings they were in, countries were trying to reach agreement on a subject and Saudi Arabia consistently was objecting. In some instances, it was China that was consistently objecting. And basically, if you want to see who the objectors are, sort of look at who was Don Pearlman talking with today, and sure enough that seems to be the country that’s leading the objections.
BASKIN: Here’s another industry man in Milan. Ray Harry is an executive with the Southern Company, America’s second largest electric utility. In recent years, the company has emerged as one of the most influential industry voices in Washington. During the last election cycle, no other electric utility spent more on federal campaign contributions than Southern.
BASKIN: What’s your title first with Southern?
HARRY: I’m Director of Environmental Affairs.
BASKIN: Director of Environmental Affairs for Southern. But your badge says that you’re with The Climate Council. So what does that mean?
HARRY: Individuals companies cannot register for these conferences. So you register under an organization.
BASKIN: This practice of industry executives attending these conferences as members of groups like The Climate Council is commonplace.
BASKIN: What would you like to see the outcome of the meeting be?
HARRY: We really don’t have a desire here. We’re just watching the scene—what the discussions are and where parties are and what ultimately might come out as some sort of agreement.
BASKIN: Maybe, but according to THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, at one recent meeting the Southern Company, worked hand-in-hand with Don Pearlman to help engineer the ouster of a high-ranking UN official, a climate expert concerned about global warming. It’s worth noting that Southern operates some of the dirtiest power plants in the United States, cited some sixteen times in the last two years for Clean Air Act violations alone.
Here’s Pearlman again in Milan. The woman on the left is a coal industry representative. And the man in the middle? That’s Harlan Watson, the chief U.S. negotiator at the convention, a snapshot of the cozy relationship between industry and the U.S. government.
ExxonMobil suggested the White House add Harlan Watson to the negotiating team. And it was Watson — as a Republican congressional aide in the early ’90s — who urged the coal industry to hire Pearlman as a lobbyist.
FLANNERY: I think the key industry —
BASKIN: Like most of the industry, ExxonMobil has a man in Milan, Brian Flannery.
BASKIN: Exxon has been one of the most vocal opponents of having caps.
FLANNERY: Of having caps and targets and timetables.
BASKIN: And why is that? Why are you so opposed to it?
FLANNERY: We’re not convinced the science justifies such a step at this time.
BASKIN: In fact, the industry insists that the jury is still out on the science of global warming, even though an overwhelming majority of America’s mainstream scientific community, including the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, substantiate the science that proves global warming is occurring, accelerating, and a threat to the planet.
Environmentalists accuse the energy industry of fueling a stealth campaign to confuse the public. They say even though mainstream scientists agree about the dangers of global warming, energy companies funnel money to think tanks and front groups who publish slick reports challenging the scientific consensus.
One example: take a look at ExxonMobil’s Web site, showing millions of dollars going to organizations who raise doubts about global warming. The goal is to mold public opinion.
PETSONK: To some extent, the mainstream press suffers from what others have called “the curse of evenhandedness.” That is, if these scientists were to announce tomorrow that the earth is flat, it would be published under the headline that says, “Shape of Earth: Views Differ.”
BASKIN: This strategy was laid out six years ago in this oil industry memo, prepared with the help of Exxon. It’s called “A Global Climate Science Communications Action Plan.” It says, quote, “Victory will be achieved when uncertainties in climate science become part of the conventional wisdom.”
SMITH: Global warming, as it’s generally presented, is a simplistic world. Evil modern man is burning up energy, leaving destruction for the only planet we have. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa, we must expiate for our evil ways.
BASKIN: Fred Smith is president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank. That oil industry memo about “achieving victory” specifically mentions the Competitive Enterprise Institute as one of the groups that can be used to create doubt about global warming. CEI is currently one of the most influential Washington think tanks.
SMITH: Energy use, remember, is what distinguishes us really from primitive societies. We have lights. We have air conditioning. We have heat. We have mobility.
And, energy use in the modern world means carbon based energy. Which means greenhouse gases and whatever attendant risks that may be there. There are risks of using energy. But there are risks of energy deprivation also. And they’re far more serious in our view.
BASKIN: After campaign contributions and lobbying expenses, corporate funding of groups like CEI has been called the “third river” of money in American politics. That’s led to charges that CEI and others are middlemen, simply putting out propaganda for big industry. In 2002 alone, ExxonMobil gave CEI more than $400,000.
BASKIN: How does that influence what you have to say on something like global warming?
SMITH: We were in this issue well before any companies wanted to stick their necks out. And we’ll be in it if they all retreat next year. We make good dance partners. We’re wonderful dance partners. But we’re dancing, we’re not getting married. We are independent. And we stand for things we believe in and we always have and always will.
BASKIN: CEI’s endeavors have paid off for its “dance partner.” So have years of effort by industry-funded lobbyists and front groups. Lawmakers are using studies by industry-funded scientists to frame American environmental policy. This group of U.S. Senators who’ve come to the UN conference echo the industry line.
PETSONK: You know, the Senators come here and they are absolutely determined that they do not believe the overwhelming majority of scientists on global warming.
BASKIN: They’re saying it is psuedoscience.
PETSONK: That’s right, that’s right. And what they listen to is exclusively the quote unquote “scientists” who are funded by leading companies in the fossil fuel industry.
BASKIN: The Senate delegation is lead by republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma. Senator Inhofe once compared the Environmental Protection Agency to a “Gestapo bureaucracy.” And as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, he’s one of the most powerful players in the global warming debate. Inhofe came to Milan with a blunt message for the world — the U.S. will never limit the use of oil and coal. It’s a view he also made clear in a speech to the Senate last year.
SENATOR JAMES INHOFE [July 28, 2003]: With all the hysteria, all the fear, all the phony science, could it be that manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? I believe it is.
BASKIN: Not surprisingly, Inhofe’s number one industry source of campaign contributions is the oil and gas business.
You have been probably the most outspoken critic, skeptic, of global warming, in fact, saying that you believe that global warming is a hoax. Do you believe that?
SENATOR INHOFE: No, no. I think the science and the way it came about, it really approaches that level.
BASKIN: But it’s not just Senators like Inhofe who have embraced industry’s position on global warming. The White House is on board, too.
It wasn’t always that way. In 2000, candidate George Bush supported restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions.
GEORGE W. BUSH [September 29, 2000]: We will require all power plants to meet clean air standards in order to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury, and carbon dioxide within a reasonable period of time.
BASKIN: Then, about a month into his presidency, Bush got this memo, warning “a moment of truth is arriving” on the regulation of greenhouse gases. It was written by Haley Barbour, who was working as a lobbyist for the giant utility, Southern Company. He’d also been chairman of Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign advisory committee. Two weeks after Barbour’s memo, the industry got its wish: the President announced the U.S. would not support Kyoto.
PRESIDENT BUSH [June 11, 2001]: Climate change, with its potential to impact every corner of the world, is an issue that must be addressed by the world. The Kyoto Protocol was fatally flawed in fundamental ways.
BASKIN: But not every Republican has signed on to the industry position. In Milan we spoke with moderate Republicans Jim Greenwood of Pennsylvania and Christopher Shays of Connecticut.
Are you concerned about the world’s perception of America as not being very serious about doing something about global warming?
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R-CT): I’m concerned about the world’s perception. I’m also concerned about the United States doing something in real terms. I don’t think we’re going to have a world to live in if we continue our neglectful ways.
REP. JIM GREENWOOD (R-PA): The administration and many of the conservative members of Congress believe that because we still have unanswered questions, that that is an argument for moving more slowly. We think that because there’s much we don’t know, the stakes being extraordinarily high, the prudent thing to do is to act more expeditiously.
BASKIN: But these moderate Republicans and their allies are being outgunned. And last month, Russia joined the U.S. in officially opposing Kyoto. Now the treaty appears to be dead. Some fear that industry is, indeed, close to achieving its “victory,” and that protecting the environment will no longer be in fashion—
BRANCACCIO: President Bush made no mention of global warming — or anything else about the environment, for that matter — in his State of the Union address.
And don’t look to any of the Democratic presidential frontrunners to breathe life back into the Kyoto Protocol as it stands.
Howard Dean says he would renegotiate the treaty because it exempts developing nations. Wesley Clark and John Edwards say we need to rethink it. And John Kerry, the winner of this week’s contest in Iowa, says he would not sign the treaty at all because it’s already too late for the U.S. to meet the binding targets set back in 1997.
ANNOUNCER: Next week on NOW WITH BILL MOYERS—
A morality play about the stealth tactics being used by powerful politicians on Capitol Hill to make sure gigantic media conglomerates can grow even larger.
Big media’s big friends in Washington — next week on NOW.
And connect to NOW WITH BILL MOYERS online at pbs.org.
Find out what conservatives are saying about the deficit. Learn more about global warming. Tell us what issues the politicians are not talking about that matter to you.
Connect to NOW at pbs.org.
BRANCACCIO: The other day I left messages for a bunch of people I know in the state of New Hampshire with this question: Who do you know who has a point of view, who is engaging, who is eligible to vote in the primary contest next week, but who does not answer to the description of “pundit”? You know, a down-to-earth citizen who doesn’t spin for a living.
Well, one answer came back with the name and phone number of the principal of a New Hampshire public school.
Meet “Citizen Boyd”: Marc Boyd, who runs Maple Avenue Elementary School in Goffstown, just down the hill from where they held last night’s Democratic presidential debate.
New Hampshire principals named Boyd 2004’s Elementary School Principal of the Year.
BOYD: Timmy, who are you going to vote for?
BRANCACCIO: It’s an honor he has earned, it is plain to see, without striking fear in the hearts of his students.
BOYD: Raise your hand!
BRANCACCIO: There are about 500 students here from this mostly white, mostly middle-class former mill town due west of Manchester.
A couple of things you need to know about Mr. Boyd: he’s a registered Democrat in a state that’s gone Republican in 7 of the last 9 presidential elections. Boyd has two grown children and owns a home he bought two decades ago for 30-grand. He’s also the proud holder of season tickets for a team in the Superbowl—you guess which one.
A couple of things you need to know about this part of the world: in New Hampshire, the state motto “Live Free or Die” translates into zero income tax and zero sales tax.
Maple Avenue Elementary is funded by local property taxes. And we mean local. Under New Hampshire’s system, school funding varies greatly depending on the value of a community’s property.
Mr. Boyd is running a citizenship exercise at the school next week in which kids vote for President.
BRANCACCIO: Well, Marc Boyd, welcome to NOW.
BOYD: Well, thank you, David, thank you.
BRANCACCIO: Now as we’ve been following you throughout the school today, you’ve been asking some of the students about the big vote next week, haven’t you?
BOYD: Yes, I have. I’m a principal, I wanna know everything.
BRANCACCIO: What are you hearing? Any political patterns emerging?
BOYD: Well, I’m surprised. Goffstown is really a strong Republican area. So you already assume that President Bush will get the majority of the votes in Goffstown. What is surprising me is a Democrat issue. Because right now, when I’m asking, I probably asked about 70 percent of the children. I’m getting an enormous landslide for John Kerry.
BRANCACCIO: For John Kerry?
BOYD: Yes, and you know it’s funny because, you know, in New Hampshire, we’re very proud of the primary. You know, we’re Live Free or Die. And our primary is so important to us, I think we have a law that no one else can have a primary. We can always have ours a week before anybody else’s primary.
So Iowa comes out of the woodwork and says well, we’re gonna do a caucus a week before. And there was a lot of resentment from it. But now I think the people of New Hampshire love it. Because what happened in Iowa the other day has made the New Hampshire primary even more important in a Democratic primary.
BRANCACCIO: When you’re walking to the school corridors earlier today you came across one of the elementary school students who’s talking about the mock vote that they’re gonna do next week.
BOYD: Kids vote.
BRANCACCIO: Kids vote. And you said, “Who are you gonna vote for?” And the boy suggested he might write in his principal, Marc Boyd, for higher office. All right. If we were to draft you for write in candidacy for the Presidency here in New Hampshire, give me a sense of your platform. Education is a given. What else?
BOYD: People are concerned about their safety. I think after 9/11, there’s a lot of concern about homeland security. And this is Marc Boyd, the world according to Marc Boyd, I believe the next issue, the foreign issue. What is happening in Iraq? What’s happening with the young men and women who we’re sending over there? Then I think we come back to domestic issues with the country. How are we doing? Are there enough jobs? Where do we stand economically? The value of the dollar.
BRANCACCIO: How’s the economy right here in your community?
BOYD: I think we’re more stable right now than what we have been in the past. I judge that by our free or reduced hot lunch program. I think our numbers are coming down. I still don’t think it’s strong. I still think we have a long way to go.
BRANCACCIO: But homeland security is something that is a clear and present issue in small town, New Hampshire. It doesn’t seem remote?
BOYD: I think it’s all over the country. When I started ten years ago, when a first grade parent would bring their child to school, and they had no idea about this school, and they’re very anxious, and they have their questions.
Ten years ago parents would come in here. And their first question would be about the curriculum. “What type of program do you have? What will you be offering my child? Will my child be able to progress?” People are coming to me now. And the first question is, “Will my child be safe in your school? If I bring my child to your school, are they gonna be coming home?”
And this is an offshoot by what’s been happening in this country over the last five or six years, the Columbines, and the other tragedies that you hear so much on in the media, that this is what parents are concerned about.
BRANCACCIO: It’s very, very interesting. It’s a homeland security issue. But it’s also a school violence issue.
BOYD: Oh, it goes a whole gamut. I mean, our society right now, it’s scary in some senses. And you wonder is it scary because it’s what actually happened? Or is it scary because we have news 24 hours a day?
BRANCACCIO: Every principal must see kids who are acting out, occasionally have to call in the parents. Give me some sense of what might be at the root of some of this.
BOYD: A major issue we have right now is the war in Iraq. We have five children right now, who have – and they’re all fathers now, last year we had mothers and fathers who have been called to active duty. And you see with the child issues arise.
Because it in many cases when a parent is called up, it has economic impact to the family. Because there’s a salary that’s not coming in that they’re used to living on. So, you have financial issue.
You also, in this case, have a single parent, who is dealing with the loss, the temporary loss of a spouse who is away, and trying to raise the children. And then you add to the anxiety and fear of what could happen to my husband, my father, being overseas every time you pick up a paper. And, we had our 500th fatality in Iraq last week.
I mean, there’s anxiety. Parents can deal with it. They’re mature. A six to a ten year old child, it’s very confusing.
BRANCACCIO: A successful candidate for you might highlight which issues? Ones that would resonate with you personally.
BOYD: Personally, I guess the major issue I have, and I’m a Democrat, I think most educators are. I’m painting with a broad brush there aren’t I? I wanna see somebody who could beat President Bush. I think that’s the major issue right now. I look at the seven remaining candidates and they’re very similar.
And what I’m looking at — who stands out among the crowd that I feel could give the good fight to the current to President Bush. And hopefully win the election.
BRANCACCIO: Why would an educator have a beef with the President? He has this major initiative. It’s called No Child Left Behind. This major education reform. And heaven knows we need some education reform in this country. I think you would agree. Why such a high priority on the switch at the top.
BOYD: Did you see the movie JERRY MAGUIRE?
BRANCACCIO: I sure did.
BOYD: And the famous line. “Show me the Money.” You know the President has come out with a tremendous, you know, education reform movement in his mind, No Child Left Behind. But we don’t have the funds to support it. It’s like you giving me a winning Powerball ticket.
And I’m in New Hampshire. And you say, “You have to get to New York City within four and a half hours.” And you give me seven dollars for gas. And I’m gonna get to Connecticut and I’m gonna be two hours away and I have no way to get to New York City.
BRANCACCIO: So in this extended metaphor, you’re being offered perhaps some support. But the journey to get that support is pretty arduous.
BOYD: We’re being given a challenge. This is what we have to do. We’re not getting the resources to adequately meet the challenge. And it’s weighing hard on education and on educators.
BRANCACCIO: Somebody told me this once, on a long ago visit to New Hampshire, but I’d forgotten it until today. It is not required for public officials to fund kindergarten in New Hampshire? I thought that’s a national rule or something?
BOYD: It’s a sad commentary on New Hampshire. We are limited.
BRANCACCIO: Do you have kindergarten here in Goffstown?
BOYD: No, we don’t.
BRANCACCIO: There’s no public kindergarten.
BOYD: We’re working real hard for it. We have a warrant article on this budget where we hope to pass a public kindergarten.
BRANCACCIO: Have you tried this before?
BOYD: Yes, we have.
BRANCACCIO: What happened?
BOYD: Last year we lost it by 15 votes.
BRANCACCIO: Let me get this straight. So you here at Maple Avenue Elementary School, when you get your first class in through here, you get first graders who may never have been to school before?
BOYD: There’s 17 school districts in the whole country that have no public kindergarten.
BRANCACCIO: And they’re all in what state?
BOYD: New Hampshire. It’s finances. Again, it comes back to the property tax. I mean how much can a citizen in Goffstown or the other 17 communities pay, you know, afford to pay.
BRANCACCIO: You know there are probably limits to that. You just can’t keep taxing property higher and higher.
BOYD: Absolutely. And therein lies the problem. We need to look at how we’re funding public education. And what’s sad in New Hampshire is the people who made the communities in New Hampshire are growing old.
So you have your lifeblood, the people who would develop a community, who gave their heart and soul to the towns who are now retired, are living on fixed incomes. And they probably had their houses paid off. But they have this incredible tax bill. And they have to come across every year paying thousands of dollars for the property taxes to fund public education.
DAVID BRANCACCIO: But let’s look away from education for a moment, to talk about Marc Boyd’s reaction to the political circus going around right now in New Hampshire.
Some other New Hampshire residents I’ve been talking to, and they’ve had people come to their door at night. They were trying to have a quiet breakfast at a diner the other day. Kucinich walks in. Someone else was trying to trade naval oranges for votes at a stoplight the other day. This isn’t happening to you?
BOYD: No. The standard joke in New Hampshire is a reporter will go up on a street, and get a New Hampshire citizenship. Are you going to vote for John Kerry? And the person will look at them, and say, “Well, I’m not sure. I’ve only met him five times so far.”
So, that’s New Hampshire. That’s New Hampshire. It’s the only place where you can walk, and meet someone in a living room, and have a cup of coffee.
BRANCACCIO: So, let’s say one of their staffers is watching this right now. What would you tell ’em? In other words, how should they re-craft their message?
BOYD: What I would tell them, they should make a coin with their candidates face on both sides. And they should be handing them out as people walk into the voting areas. Because I really believe what’s gonna happen next Tuesday, people are gonna make their decision in the in the voting booth.
Everyone, people I’m talking to now are still up in the air. What are we gonna do? So, they take that coin, they flip it, and they’re gonna see the head of their candidate no matter how it comes out. And they’re gonna vote.
BRANCACCIO: Marc, people you talk to? This sounds like you.
BOYD: Well, no people. These are people I know. And I’ve been this way. I’ve gone through three campaigns now. I started out with supporting Howard Dean. Then I moved over to Joseph Lieberman. Now I’m in the Kerry camp. Heaven knows where I’m gonna be on Tuesday.
BRANCACCIO: You mentioned about how you were inclined to make your ultimate choice on who you were gonna vote for as a strategic decision. Do you worry sometimes about that strategy of trying to figure out who is most likely to win?
BOYD: I think you have to look who you’re working with. We have seven candidates right now. And of the seven candidates, there’s probably five, four or five, you know, who have an opportunity to make a good run for the Presidency. There’s a couple other candidates who I think they have a snowball chance in Hades of doing it. So, right away you, in my mind, I’m taking these people off the table and looking at the five who I view as viable, and making that choice. And I and people I have talked to, I think they’re doing the same thing.
BRANCACCIO: Now, a close second to politics in New Hampshire this particular time of year is professional football. I think there’s a New England team that’s going to the Super Bowl.
BOYD: Yes, they are.
BRANCACCIO: Now, you’ve noted this?
BOYD: You know who was ingenious? It was President Bush. He gave the State of the Union address the other night. He had so many guests he could invite. But you know who they invited?
BRANCACCIO: Who’s that?
BOYD: Tom Brady.
BRANCACCIO: Tom Brady.
BOYD: Tom, the quarterback of the New England Patriots. If a Democratic candidate wanted to win this election hands down, all they need to get Tom Brady to support ’em right now.
BRANCACCIO: Well, Marc Boyd, thank you so much for spending this time with us on NOW.
BOYD: Thank you, and welcome to Maple Avenue Elementary School.
MOYERS: So Howard Dean committed what pros say could be a terminal no-no. He got so hot under the collar in a cool medium that his campaign seemed to melt down right before our eyes.
Someone put his Monday night bombast to music and the cable channels and rightwing radio jocks are playing it over and over. Pundits and opponents hinted he came unhinged and is “unfit for higher office.”
Even some faithful Democratic voters were shaken at the sight of a candidate sounding more like a pugilist than a President.
Horrified, the doctor’s gurus called in the cosmetic team who worked overnight on a full makeover: softer tones. More pastels. A touch more wonkery about healthcare. Dignity, Doctor, dignity on the media’s terms — even if to get it the other Dr. Dean, his wife, had to leave her examining room and patients to sit for an interview with Diane Sawyer.
The media want penitence, Doctor — penitence, served up with a dash of tact and deference — with cultural cool. I don’t know Howard Dean, have never met him. I don’t have a horse in this race. But I’ve been around long enough to know that on Monday night he did violate the 11th commandment of the medium-as-message: Thou shalt not be intemperate before a microphone. Unless, of course, you are intemperate on talk radio, or cable television, where fortune smiles on the bully and fame rewards excess.
A lot of people are gloating over Howard Dean’s foot-in-the-mouth disease. Among them, says Tina Brown in THE WASHINGTON POST, are establishment Democrats — the big-money guys — who are breathing easier now that Vermont’s Don Quixote has crashed his noble Rocinante into the windmill. With all that money raised from the internet rabble, with malcontents and idealists rallying to his side, with so much pent-up rage at a system that allows you to pick the public’s pockets as long as you do it with a smile and hurrah and good manners. Well, Howard Dean was just too unfashionably independent and unpredictable for comfort inside the Beltway.
The cameras caught him in flagrante politico, the unpardonable sin: daring to let go, losing it in the cause.
So the picture I’ll remember from the week is not of the candidate as raging bull, but this one: his subdued young followers, made suddenly aware of sudden death brought on by an overdose of spontaneity in an age where only the image counts.
That’s it for now. David Brancaccio and I will be back next week.
I’m Bill Moyers. Goodnight.
This transcript was entered on April 22, 2015.