Inhofe Draws Criticism For EPA Attack

(“Senator James Inhofe, a pig from Oklahoma who refers to the EPA in a number of ways, but he hates the EPA. James Inhofe wants to die breathing carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide. He wants to die eating genetically modified food. He wants to die because he can't breathe because there's carcinogens in everything he touches, everything he drinks, everything he eats."—Progressive radio talk show host Mike Malloy.)

In my last post, I cited a recent Media Matters report that criticized The Oklahoman for slanted coverage on the environmental safety of the natural gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

The report argued the newspaper favored the interests of the oil and gas industry and downplayed the threat to drinking water that fracking may cause because of its heavy use of chemicals. This is true enough, but I also pointed out in the post that the newspaper has served as a toady to the energy industry for decades, not just recently. I also mentioned its editorial support for Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, a long-time supporter of the oil and gas industry, who receives major campaign contributions from it.

Well, coincidentally, last week Inhofe pulled yet another political stunt on the Senate floor by denouncing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Al Armendariz for comments he made two years ago in Texas about drilling pollution. The big point was to prove how hostile the EPA is to the oil and gas industry, especially when it comes to fracking.

Later, Armendariz ended up quitting his job.

Armendariz’s comments might seem a bit extreme on the first take, but a short YouTube video hardly gives needed context. Here’s what he apparently said that caused all the fuss:

It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. Then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

His point was that the EPA would make examples of companies breaking pollution laws in the hope that it would deter other companies from also doing so, which is innocuous enough, but the use of “crucify” was a poor word choice and the entire analogy was unnecessary.

But should he have to quit his job because of it? I don’t think so. Armendariz is a professor at Southern Methodist University and has solid credentials. As Politico pointed out the YouTube video of Armendariz had been around for two years. It took the “Inhofe bump” to make it go viral, and I’m sure the senator’s proud of it.

Inhofe, of course, has his own history of controversial statements, including the claim that global warming is a “hoax.” He’s even written a book about his extreme views. The Oklahoman has never really called him out on that one.

Inhofe’s actions last week were received favorably by conservative media outlets, but Inhofe, as we know, tends to draw irate criticism as well. Left-winger radio talk show host Mike Malloy apparently went on a rant about the incident. Here’s some of what he said, according NewBusters, which supposedly combats “liberal media bias”:

Senator James Inhofe, a pig from Oklahoma who refers to the EPA in a number of ways, but he hates the EPA. James Inhofe wants to die breathing carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide. He wants to die eating genetically modified food. He wants to die because he can't breathe because there's carcinogens in everything he touches, everything he drinks, everything he eats.

Inhofe has also drawn the recent wrath of 30 Rock television show actor Alec Baldwin, who called Inhofe an “Oil Whore” in a tweet and suggested . . .”Inhofe retire to a solar-powered gay bar.”

The intensity of all the comments, including Inhofe’s polarizing remarks and book about global warming, can be viewed as just theatrical rhetorical exchanges on one level, but I can’t help feel that Inhofe and Oklahoma end up with the most damage to their images on the national level in the crossfire.

Inhofe continues to bring bad publicity to the state. It’s just not necessary.