Senate’s #1 Climate Denier Joins Attacks On Pope: Stay With Your Job, ‘Let Us Stay With Ours’

If you were wondering whether Republicans are worried about Pope Francis’ much anticipated visit to Washington in September to deliver a speech on climate change, look no further than the very-public freak out they are having in the months leading up to it.

Recently, Rick Santorum channeled his party’s anxiety by suggesting that the pope stay out of talking about science (read: climate change) because he’s not a scientists. The only problem, and it’s just a small one: The pope has an advanced degree in chemistry, worked as a chemist before joining the church, and is therefore a literal scientist. Rick Santorum, in comparison, doesn’t currently even have a job – and no, pretend running for president for a few months before dropping out of the primaries doesn’t count.

But nevermind that, say Republicans. Just a short time after watching Rick Santorum shove his foot squarely in his mouth, and already other conservative politicians are lining up to do the same.

First up, and certainly most eager, is Senator James “Snowball” Inhofe, the only senator to have written the literal book on climate change denialism. Aside from spending his work week killing environmental protection bills from his chair on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Inhofe dreams up novel and interesting ways in which to show he has no idea what he’s talking about. These public spectacles include throwing a snowball on the House floor and citing the Bible to defend voting against an environmental bill.

Inhofe is clearly peeved that the pope keeps pointing out that climate change exists, so he took Santorum’s cue and told Pope Francis to shut up.

“Everyone is going to ride the pope now. Isn’t that wonderful,” he said. “The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours.”

A few moments later, Inhofe said: “I am not going to talk about the pope. Let him run his shop, and we’ll run ours.”

It’s unclear what Inhofe believes the limits of Pope Francis’s “shop” are, but clearly he thinks speaking about the dangers of climate change isn’t one of them. Like Santorum, Inhofe thinks his job as a politician allows him to decide whether the Earth is warming and no one else can talk about it. Or, put another way, Inhofe would find it much easier to continue denying climate change exists if people would stop talking about it. Especially ones that have the moral weight, scientific background, and far reach of the papacy.

It’s hard to say what Pope Francis makes of the menagerie of Republican clowns that hurl insults at him in order to protect oil companies and polluters, but it doesn’t seem likely to dissuade him from speaking his piece. Americans may have to put up with these embarrassing outbursts, but the pope doesn’t. Later this month, Francis is expected to deliver an encyclical that “will convey to the world that protecting our environment is an urgent moral imperative and a sacred duty for all people of people and people of conscience.” Between that and the dreaded Washington visit sure to be humiliating for climate deniers, it’s understandable that Republican politicians are feeling a bit on the defensive. They’ve lost any chance of claiming the moral high ground, and the water is rising.

Feature image via C-SPAN screenshot