What Bill O’Reilly Told Jay Leno

Amy Ridenour
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Posted: Oct 17, 2007 10:14 PM
What Bill O’Reilly Told Jay Leno

Bill O’Reilly went on Jay Leno’s show Friday night and confessed to being extremely confused. About global warming.

O’Reilly knows what he’s talking about. He is very confused.

O’Reilly believes global temperatures can be predicted by the number of days hockey can be played outdoors on Long Island. The global warming theory is proved by polar bears floating down the Mississippi. Global warming is caused by human-created smog, yet O’Reilly doesn’t know if people cause global warming or if “the Deity is mad at us.”

O’Reilly supports Al Gore’s global warming work (“Right on, Al Gore!”) and is enthusiastic about the use of private airplanes (“the only way to go”).

It’s enough to make you wonder if a bottle-blonde airhead has taken over O’Reilly’s body.

Take his exchange with Leno:

O’Reilly: Al Gore’s running around the world in a private jet… but that’s all right…

Leno: …but that’s…

O’Reilly: …that’s all right, that’s the only way to go… you been in an airport lately?

Leno: What would the critics say? Take a sailboat?

O’Reilly: Yeah, you got to get there. I think Al Gore is doing a good thing. The planet is dirty. Let’s clean it up. I don’t know how this got to be a partisan issue. Who doesn’t want a cleaner planet?

Leno: Sometimes I’ll listen to the different radio shows, and I’ll hear a lot of the conservative guys vehemently against global warming. I mean, to me, let’s say you’re against global warming… why not be self-sufficient so you can screw the electric company…?

O’Reilly: Yeah, or the gas and oil companies… I think the anger against Al Gore is that he blames America for a lot of it when China and India are the real big coming polluters. Doesn’t mention that… The right says oh, no, there isn’t global warming, and meanwhile there’s a polar bear floating down the Mississippi River. C’mon. I used to play ice hockey for two years in Long Island where I grew up, sorry, two months during the winter. You are lucky if you get two days now. You’re lucky if you get two days! So there is global warming. The temperature says it. Though whether it is man-made or the Deity, we don’t know. So let’s get a cleaner planet. Let’s all get together and clean it up. C’mon! So right on Al Gore!

O’Reilly doesn’t quite catch the nuances of the global warming debate.

Counting the number of days Long Island ponds freeze won’t reveal global temperature trends. If O’Reilly’s right and there were more frozen-pond days in Long Island in 1966 than in 2006, it doesn’t prove the global warming theory any more than New York’s largest-ever snowfall occurring in 2006 proves global cooling.

Three words: natural temperature variation.

By the way, Long Island’s average temperature remains just 28.6 degrees for January and 29.8 for February, so O’Reilly can continue his ice hockey dreams.

Not so much his bear fantasies. Polar bears have not been floating down the Mississippi. Furthermore, should the Mississippi River develop arctic temperatures, the culprit probably wouldn’t be global warming.

And Al Gore’s focus isn’t smog. It’s carbon dioxide. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions by governmental edict won’t make the planet “cleaner,” as O’Reilly apparently believes, but it would make daily living more expensive -- disproportionately so for lower income people. That would be the folks who don’t ride with Bill on private planes.

O’Reilly’s wrong, moreover, that climate optimists (what some call “skeptics”) are primarily upset at Gore for largely giving China a pass as the world’s largest carbon dioxide producer. Gore critics have a much bigger beef: They believe Gore’s restrictions on the economy in the name of the environment -- Gorenomics -- would noticably hurt, and for scant reason. If every nation ratified the Kyoto Treaty and broke precedent by fulfilling treaty obligations, the impact on climate would be negligible. Even Kyoto supporters acknowledge this.

Those who see in Gorenomics a world of pain for energy-starved underdeveloped countries and the poor and middle class everywhere have legitimate concerns -- concerns that don’t go away just because Al Gore wins awards. What Al Gore and his supporters want to do to our economy is a very big deal indeed.

Energy, after all, is one of the means of production, and Al Gore wants the government to control it. (Does this remind anyone of anything?)

Climate optimists don’t oppose voluntary conservation, turning off light bulbs or riding bicycles. What we do oppose is spending hundreds of billions, even trillions, for a prescription that won’t work to fix a problem that may not exist.

Private planes may be “the only way to go” for O’Reilly, Leno and Gore. But millions of other Americans can’t be sanguine about the price increases and job losses that Gorenomics would cause. Kyoto-like policies that, the Clinton-Gore Administration itself estimated in 1998, would raise electricity bills 86%, the price of heating oil by 76%, and gasoline prices by 66 cents a gallon, while reducing our economic growth rate by 1.2% and putting about a million people out of work.

So when Al Gore’s critics don’t rush to embrace his prescriptions, Bill, it’s not because we have anything against a clean planet.

We’re just looking out for the folks.