John Andrews

“The climate crisis is both urgent and solvable [so] our ultimate aim is halt global warming,” proclaims an Al Gore website and ad campaign. But conservatives, among whom former Speaker Newt Gingrich proudly counts himself, believe hardly a single word of that statement. So it’s hard to fathom why Gingrich is appearing in TV spots with Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi, promoting the campaign.

In a damage control letter, Newt claims he is merely trying to engage the climate debate and keep the right relevant, without granting the left’s premise “that we have conclusive proof of global warming [or] that humans are at the center of it.”

He insists his purpose in doing the ads with Pelosi is to advance “a Green Conservatism that wants to use science, technology, innovation, entrepreneurs, and prizes to find a way to creatively invent the kind of environmental future we all want to live in.”

Sorry, but that sounds like moonshine to me. The sum total of Gingrich’s message on these cheesy spots, showing the past and present Speakers seated like couch potatoes in front of the US Capitol (similar to an equally horrid beach sofa scene with the Revs. Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton, heaven help us) is this:

“Our country must take action to address climate change. If enough of us demand action from our leaders, we can spark the innovation we need.”

But why, Newt, pray tell, “must our country take action” on something which, according your off-camera spin lacks conclusive proof as to its very existence, let alone its human cause? And how can your Green Conservatism get any hearing whatsoever from WeCanSolveIt.org, the Gore-led website to which Nancy directs us at the close of the ad?

The site offers no “spark the innovation” option at all. It's not about an open debate, it's about saluting the Al Gore orthodoxy. Gingrich disciples who go to the site will find that “demand action from our leaders” translates to a rigged three-part agenda:

(1) Sign the petition for a global treaty on climate change, Son of Kyoto. (2) Ask lenders to consider climate impact when funding new coal plants, a concession to precisely that “left-wing environmentalism” which Newt’s letter, shown below, condemns. And (3) Urge the press to ask about global warming. Right, we sure need more of that; just so the theory’s validity isn’t asked about.

Newt Gingrich has long been a hero to many of us for, among many other notable achievements, tagging the word “nutty” onto things that liberals like naked emperors had always gotten away with before. How sad to see him (and poor old Pat Robertson) now standing at the summit of — or should we say sitting on the sofa of — nuttiness themselves.

I asked Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, which convened the recent Manhattan Conference of prestigious scientific skeptics about global warming, what he makes of the Republican ex-Speaker’s strange odyssey to the land of melting polar caps. Bast replied:

Newt Gingrich was once an important figure in the conservative movement, but his appearance in advertisements run by Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection confirms what many conservatives have been saying for quite awhile: Gingrich is no longer a conservative. His views on environment and even health care no longer are based on sound science, private property rights, and market-based solutions, but instead spread and stray into territory mostly traveled by alarmists and liberals. It’s a surprise, because very few conservatives “go over to the other side” (whereas it is common among liberals). It’s disappointing, too, because Gingrich is undeniably a clever man and forceful communicator. We can only hope it is a phase he’s going through, and be prepared to welcome him back to the fold if ever he wakes up and smells the coffee.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. I especially liked that “Newt come home” appeal at the end. Let’s hope he does. Brain cooling on Planet Gingrich can’t set in soon enough. For the record, here’s the Newt Gingrich spin statement, as read on air by Rush Limbaugh:

Many of you have written to me to ask why I recently taped an advertisement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for The Alliance for Climate Protection, a group founded by former Vice President Al Gore. I completely understand why many of you would have questions about this, so I want to take this opportunity to explain my reasons. First of all, I want to be clear: I don’t think that we have conclusive proof of global warming. And I don’t think we have conclusive proof that humans are at the center of it.

But here’s what we do know. There is an important debate going on right now over the right energy policy, the right environmental policy, and making sure we do the right things for our future and the future of our children and grandchildren. Conservatives are missing from this debate, and I think that’s a mistake. When it comes to preserving our environment for future generations, we can’t have a slogan of ‘Just yell no!’ I have a different view. I think it’s important to be on the stage, to engage in the debate, and to communicate our position clearly.

There is a big difference between left-wing environmentalism that wants higher taxes, bigger government, more bureaucracy, more regulation, more red tape, and more litigation and a Green Conservatism that wants to use science, technology, innovation, entrepreneurs, and prizes to find a way to creatively invent the kind of environmental future we all want to live in. Unless we start making the case for the latter, we’re going to get the former. That’s why I took part in the ad.

Maybe that convinces you, but to me it’s about as plausible as a weight-loss infomercial. The TV spots themselves, as we've seen, have no "battle of ideas" dimension whatsoever. They consist of Gingrich and Robertson weakly letting themselves be used as stage props for a set of beliefs and policies which the two men, in their more lucid and less fame-deluded moments, wouldn't dream of endorsing. Sad, sad. Sad


John Andrews

John Andrews is former president of the Colorado Senate and the author of "Responsibility Reborn: A Citizen's Guide to the Next American Century"