Thursday's front-page story by reporter John Broder on the climate change debate cast skeptics that the earth is dangerously warming because of man as ignorant Bible-thumpers and tools of the oil industry: "Skepticism on Climate Change Is Article of Faith for Tea Party."
Broder reported from Jasper, Indiana and found some big fat targets for liberal disdain:
At a candidate forum here last week, Representative Baron P. Hill, a threatened Democratic incumbent in a largely conservative southern Indiana district, was endeavoring to explain his unpopular vote for the House cap-and-trade energy bill.
It will create jobs in Indiana, reduce foreign oil imports and address global warming, Mr. Hill said at a debate with Todd Young, a novice Republican candidate who is supported by an array of Indiana Tea Party groups and is a climate change skeptic.
"Climate change is real, and man is causing it," Mr. Hill said, echoing most climate scientists. "That is indisputable. And we have to do something about it."
A rain of boos showered Mr. Hill, including a hearty growl from Norman Dennison, a 50-year-old electrician and founder of the Corydon Tea Party.
"It's a flat-out lie," Mr. Dennison said in an interview after the debate, adding that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. "I read my Bible," Mr. Dennison said. "He made this earth for us to utilize."
Skepticism and outright denial of global warming are among the articles of faith of the Tea Party movement, here in Indiana and across the country. For some, it is a matter of religious conviction; for others, it is driven by distrust of those they call the elites. And for others still, efforts to address climate change are seen as a conspiracy to impose world government and a sweeping redistribution of wealth. But all are wary of the Obama administration's plans to regulate carbon dioxide, a ubiquitous gas, which will require the expansion of government authority into nearly every corner of the economy.
Broder then cited a poll Times Watch can't locate to show "Those who support the Tea Party movement are considerably more dubious about the existence and effects of global warming than the American public at large."
A February 11, 2010 story by Broder on global warming was accompanied by a podcast in which Broder termed skeptics of climate change "deniers" and said that some skeptics were "relatively uninformed." His latest story is just as insulting. Broder shifted from setting up fundamentalist Christians as dupes to tarring global-warming skeptics as being foolish tools for Big Oil.
Those views in general align with those of the fossil fuel industries, which have for decades waged a concerted campaign to raise doubts about the science of global warming and to undermine policies devised to address it.
Groups that help support Tea Party candidates include climate change skepticism in their core message. Americans for Prosperity, a group founded and largely financed by oil industry interests, has sponsored what it calls a Regulation Reality Tour to stir up opposition to climate change legislation and federal regulation of carbon emissions. Its Tea Party talking points describe a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions as "the largest excise tax in history."
Broder completely ignored the Climategate email scandal that cut into the movement's credibility, and could conceive of no other reason for global-warming skepticism other than being unduly influenced by the energy lobby.
The oil, coal and utility industries have collectively spent $500 million just since the beginning of 2009 to lobby against legislation to address climate change and to defeat candidates, like Mr. Hill, who support it, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a left-leaning advocacy group in Washington.
Their message appears to have fallen on receptive ears. Of the 20 Republican Senate candidates in contested races, 19 question the science of global warming and oppose any comprehensive legislation to deal with it, according to a National Journal survey.
Broder ended as he began, quoting a fundamentalist Christian, in what certainly comes off like an attempt to paint global-warming doubters as motivated by blind religious faith, not scientific skepticism or principles of limited government.
Lisa Deaton, a small-business owner in Columbus, Ind., who started We the People Indiana, a Tea Party affiliate, is supporting Mr. Young in part because of his stand against climate change legislation.
"They're trying to use global warming against the people," Ms. Deaton said. "It takes way our liberty."
"Being a strong Christian," she added, "I cannot help but believe the Lord placed a lot of minerals in our country and it's not there to destroy us."
You can follow Times Watch on Twitter.