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Johnny Isakson tussles with a Democrat on Senate floor: 'I don't believe climate change is a religion'


WASHINGTON -- It's unusual to see a U.S. Senator call out a colleague by name in a negative manner on the floor, and it's certainly unusual to see Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson so fired up, so this video is worth watching.

Over the weekend, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; wrote an op-ed in USA Today ripping Republicans for not taking action on climate change. It includes this sentence:

"Republicans in Congress who represent great corporations headquartered in their states ignore those corporations — Walmart in Arkansas, Coca-Cola in Georgia, VF Corporation in North Carolina — when they explain the business case for addressing climate change and are already reducing their own pollution."

Whitehouse then spoke on the floor Tuesday, praising Coca-Cola's work to save water around the world. He called out Isakson and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., specifically:

"I don't know whether Coca-Cola has ever spoken about climate change to Senators Isakson or Perdue from Coca-Cola's home state of Georgia. It's not just them. I pick Walmart and Coca-Cola out because they're two of the best companies on carbon reduction.

"I actually don't know of one major American corporation that makes climate change a priority when it comes here to Washington and lobbies Congress -- not one. America's corporate leaders have great carbon reduction policies, but when they come to Congress, that's not on the agenda of their politics. And if it were, it would make a difference."

Isakson did not appreciate that. He showed up to the floor today with a blown up photo of himself from a trip to Ghana with Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., in which they checked out Coca-Cola's environmentally friendly activities. He said Coke has briefed him repeatedly over the years on its water savings, energy efficiency and emissions reduction efforts.

And then he gave his thoughts on climate change:

"I believe the climate does change, but I don't believe climate change is a religion. I think it's science. I've done everything I can as a United States Senator to educate myself on the carbon issue and the climate change issue. Seven years ago I went with Senator Boxer from California to Disko Bay in Greenland with Dr. [Richard] Alley who's the leading glaciologist in the world to study for a while what he says about carbon being the cause of climate change. And there are mixed reviews on that and there's mixed scientific evidence on that.

"I'm the first person to tell you we should reduce our carbon footprint. It's good for our atmosphere and it's good for our health. Eight years ago when I [had] just entered the United States Senate I bought a hybrid vehicle. I still drive that Ford Escape hybrid today. I did so because I thought it was a good business decision. I thought it was a good environmental decision. I didn't buy it because anybody made me. I bought it because I cared.

"My wife and I recycle because we think it makes a good idea. There's lots of things that we can do to make the environment better. But to infer in the USA Today or to infer in a speech we're not cognizant of the things done by our corporations to reduce carbon emission and reduce the danger to the environment is just wrong and it's just unfair. ...

"The truth of the matter is we all care about the environment. We just don't all subscribe to the same theory about what happens. ...

"I love Sheldon Whitehouse. He's a great U.S. Senator. I appreciate Leader Reid and what he does. But I don't appreciate the references made about Coca-Cola and me in the article they wrote over the weekend or the speech that was made last night."

Things we learned today: Isakson drives a hybrid, he recycles and he loves Sheldon Whitehouse.


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