Politics of Climate Change | Years of Living Dangerously

BRADLEY WHITFORD: I want to know why there aren't more Republicans in Congress willing to come forward on climate. So I'm going to meet the GOP's most outspoken critic, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: I am back to again urge my colleagues to wake up to the stark reality of climate change. BRADLEY WHITFORD: Nearly every week for the last four years, Whitehouse has taken to the Senate floor. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: I am here today for now the 50th time, 64th, 73rd. I'm going to keep doing this. I'm never going to walk away from this issue. Today is my 103rd, 107th, 145th time. Hi. If this is uncomfortable for my colleagues, I apologize. But basically, I don't BRADLEY WHITFORD: Care. Whitehouse pulls no punches when it comes to calling out Republicans.

SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: They'd just as soon wash their hands of it. BRADLEY WHITFORD: For being the last remaining conservative party on Earth to deny the science of climate change. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: It is time. It is well past time. BRADLEY WHITFORD: Like a lot of people, this situation drives me nuts. That what should not be a partisan issue has become a partisan issue. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: But it really isn't a partisan issue. You've got to look behind the partisanship and see who's pulling the strings. The truly evil story is what the fossil fuel industry is doing. They've taken power centers of the Republican Party and grabbed them all. And if they pull their support from a Republican candidate, that's a very serious threat. BRADLEY WHITFORD: Do you see any Republicans who want to do the right thing on this? SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: I would say 12 to 20 Republican senators would like to be involved in a serious piece of climate legislation, and feel they can't.

Talking to Republican senators about climate change is like talking to prisoners about escape. They look around. And the whole conversation is how are we going to get safely over the fence or under the fence. Have you've got a tunnel? These are people who've got essentially a political gun to their heads. BRADLEY WHITFORD: Right. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: And they are being told, you do this and it's a career ender. BRADLEY WHITFORD: Do you see any hope? Any daylight there? SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: A lot. What I'm buoyed by is the conversations from Republican senators saying, I know I can't get there yet. But keep doing what you're doing. BRADLEY WHITFORD: What does it take to turn them? SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Safe passage. Some form of safe passage.

BRADLEY WHITFORD: I'm amazed by what Whitehouse is telling me. Despite the threat of the fossil fuel lobby, there may be enough Republican votes in the Senate to pass a climate bill..