Myron Ebell on Scarborough Country on MSNBC
GUESTS: Lloyd Grove; Ana Marie Cox; Chaunce Hayden; Drew Pinsky; Megan Stecher; Michelle Stecher; Myron Ebell; Jack Burkman; Eric Alterman; Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
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SCARBOROUGH: As Al Franken once said on "Saturday Night Live," the world comes to end. Details at 6:00. Well, that's what they say happens in "The Day After Tomorrow" movie. We're going to be talking to Robert Kennedy about that in just a second.
SCARBOROUGH: Is Hollywood using its summer blockbusters to sway the next presidential election?
Well, this Friday, "The Day After Tomorrow" opens. It's a $125 million movie that portrays a worldwide natural disaster that is brought on by global warning. MoveOn.org and Al Gore are even promoting what some are calling a presidential hit piece.
Well, we've got Robert F. Kennedy Jr. He's the senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance. We also have Dana Kennedy, no relation, I don't think, NBC entertainment editor. And Myron Ebell, he's the director of global warning policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Dana Kennedy, let's go to you.
First Michael Moore at Cannes and now this movie. Is Hollywood going to actually take votes from George Bush this fall with these movies?
DANA KENNEDY, NBC ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR: If I had to vote right now about these two movies—I haven't seen Michael Moore's documentary. I quite a bit about what's in it.
But I have to say, I think this cheesy disaster movie, which is very reminiscent of the '70s disaster movies like "Towering Inferno" and "Poseidon Adventure," might actually do more damage to Bush. What's amazing, though, I saw this movie yesterday, and you kind of laid it out for us. Dennis Quaid plays a climatologist who warns the current administration that there may be catastrophic results if they don't take his warnings.
And sure enough, all of the sudden, a new Ice Age is upon us. We see tornadoes in Los Angeles. We see Manhattan in the best special effects sequence of this movie inundated by floods. What's amazing, though, is the president is played by a Bush look-alike. And the vice-presidential character, the actor, is a dead ringer for Dick Cheney.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, God. Unbelievable. (CROSSTALK)
D. KENNEDY: The most amazing sequences are, they have to evacuate to Southern states. The North is lost to us. And state see Americans trying to get into Mexico, yes, but Mexico won't have us. And we see desperate Americans crossing, yes, the Rio Grande trying to get into Mexico in an obvious and quite hilarious reversal of immigration laws.
And the end, we see Dick Cheney—sorry if I'm spoiling this for people—delivering a mea culpa, basically that should have listened, we were wrong, and saying we have to forgive all Latin American debt, just so we can be allowed to evacuate in there. And I was surprised that it was this sharp a broadside. So I think this movie might do more damage than all of Michael Moore's—all of his P.R. for his documentary.
SCARBOROUGH: Wow, Dick Cheney saying, if I had only known, if I had only known Bobby Kennedy was right all along.
Well, Al Gore thinks the Bush environmental is more fictitious than the movie. And this is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're dealing with two fictions. First is the honest fiction of this movie, which distorts for entertainment purposes and is up front and honest about it. The second fiction is the Bush White House story about global warming, which is far more fictional than this movie is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Bobby Kennedy, you were there. You were on that panel. You're probably considered the leading environmental voice in America right now. Do you think it's a good idea to use movies to—do you think it's a scare tactic or do you think this movie is based on solid science?
ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: Well, the movie was produced by Fox, which is Rupert Murdoch's company. So I don't think there's a political conspiracy here.
It's not good science, but it is a wakeup call. It's a way of elevating the debate. And the problem is, if you talk about the facts about global warming, we win the debate every time. The problem is, the White House has suppressed 12 separate studies by the Natural Research Council, by Natural Research Council, by the National Academy of Sciences, the EPA, 10-year studies. The White House has suppressed them, has heard scientists, had blackballed scientists for talking about this issue, has fired the best scientist in the country, Robert Watson, for talking about this.
They don't want the American people to discuss this issue, because this is a serious calamity that we're facing. The North Pole is melting right now. It will be gone within 40 years. We've had 19 of the 20 years hottest years on record over the past 20 years. All the glaciers are melting around the world. The snow pack is going. The ocean levels are rising. This isn't something that you need a scientist to testify to anymore. We are experiencing global warming. And there's a global calamity that's now facing our planet.
SCARBOROUGH: Myron, I want to read you what scientist Patrick Michaels from the Cato Institute said, a libertarian think tank.
They said: "I bristle when lies dressed up as science are used to influence political discourse. This film is propaganda designed to shift the policy of this nation on climate change."
I want you to respond to that, if it's propaganda dressed up as policy, and also, if you will, respond to what Bobby said.
MYRON EBELL, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, I agree with Pat that there's—I have nothing against fantasy disaster movies, but the people behind this movie are saying that it's more important than just a fantasy disaster movie. It actually makes a contribution to the debate.
Well, if global warming causing a new Ice Age strikes you as a little bit implausible, I think you're with the American public. I think most people can tell fantasy from what's possible. Unfortunately, many environmental groups, including Mr. Kennedy's, and many politicians live in their own fantasy worlds and they can't actually tell fantasy from reality. And that's why they think that this movie somehow makes a serious contribution to the debate.
The facts are of course that global warming doesn't cause ice ages. I think everyone can relax on that score. And secondly, you know, Al Gore promoting this, really, I think just associating with the movie with Al Gore is a really bad sign for the future of this movie.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Bobby Kennedy, do you live in a fantasy world? B. KENNEDY: No.
I think the organization that Myron works for is an organization that is funded by the coal industry, by the oil industry. And for 20 years, they've been trying to deceive the American public by housing these phony scientists. We call them biostitutes who are lying and deceiving the American public and saying there's no such thing as global warming.
But there's a consensus in the mainstream American community. There's literally no prominent scientist left in the world that will not tell that you we are now experiencing global warming, that it's the result of human emissions, and that we face a catastrophe.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, the White House will say that actually emissions have gone down, airborne emissions have gone down since the president has taken control in 2001 and actually air pollution is improving. Is that the case?
B. KENNEDY: No, that's not the case. Air pollution is getting worse. And the laws that govern air pollution, every kind of air pollution, not just CO2, but air pollution, but mercury pollution, the pollutions that cause asthma, particulates of ozone, all of those things are climbing.
The president has suppressed the laws that were meant to control them. He's abandoned the statutory requirements that control acid rain, that control ozone particulates. Things are getting worse under this president.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Myron, I'll give you the last word. Go ahead.
EBELL: Well, almost nothing that Mr. Kennedy has said this evening is true. He may not be aware of that fact. I don't know.
And the NRDC, which he is associated with, actually lies about the environment. They recently did so in a full-page advertisement in "The New York Times" in which they solicited funds based on lies. And Mr.Kennedy may not know enough to know that he's not telling the truth, but in fact virtually everything he said this evening is either wrong or untrue.
SCARBOROUGH: Actually, I've got to give you the last word. (LAUGHTER)
SCARBOROUGH: That was so personal. We've got to go, but I've got to give you the last word, 15 seconds.
B. KENNEDY: Yes.
The facts are out there. And, as I said, the man on the street knows that global warming is occurring. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, Mr. Ebell is funded by the oil industry, by the coal industry. And their job is to deceive the American public, so that they can continue to burn fuels irresponsibly without removing the CO2, which is what we ought to be doing.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Bobby, good to see you again. B. KENNEDY: Good to see you again, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Myron, thank you for being with us.