(CNSNews.com) – Armed with images of a gun-toting, dinosaur-mounted Ronald Reagan, a snow lizard and giant seahorse, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) had some fun at the expense of Democratic colleagues on Tuesday, but made clear that it was their “Green New Deal,” not climate change, that was the butt of his jokes.
Lee’s speech and accompanying visuals came before the Senate voted against advancing a resolution “recognizing the duty of the federal government to create a Green New Deal.”
In what Democrats condemned as a “stunt,” every Republican voted against the resolution, put forward by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a bid to force Democrats to take a public stand on an initiative which he called “a radical, top-down, socialist makeover of the entire U.S. economy.”
The Republicans were joined by three Democrats – Sens. Doug Jones (Ala.), Joe Manchin (W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) – and independent Angus King (Me.), while the remainder of the Democrats, including the declared 2020 presidential candidates, voted “present.”
The vote count was 0 yeas, 57 nays, and 43 voting present.
“The GOP’s climate delaying is costing us lives + destroying communities,” Green New Deal champion Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted afterwards. She also said she and others had encouraged Senate Democrats to vote “present,” adding that McConnell had tried to rush the initiative “straight to the floor without a hearing.”
Lee opened his speech – social media opinions on which ranged from “bizarre” to “masterful” – by saying he was going to “consider the Green New Deal with the seriousness it deserves.”
The image of Reagan on a “velociraptor holding up a tattered American flag,” he said, was meant to depict a “climactic battle of the Cold War,” although in real life, “the Cold War, as we all know, was won without firing a shot.”
“This image has as much to do with overcoming communism in the 20th century as the Green New Deal has to do with overcoming climate change in the 21st.”
Lee later presented images of a Tauntaun snow lizard of Star Wars fame – a suggested carbon-neutral mode of winter transport for citizens of Alaska “in a future without air travel” – and an animated Aquaman riding a giant seahorse as the corresponding option for citizens of Hawaii.
He went on to talk about the elimination of America’s cows – considered a problem because they emit methane, a greenhouse gas.
‘A token of elite tribal identity’
A Green New Deal “frequently asked questions” document from Ocasio-Cortez’ office earlier this year called for the building of “high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”
It also referred to bovine flatulence: “We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”
Eliminating air travel and cows were not included in the actual Green New Deal resolution subsequently introduced by Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) – which in replicated form was what was voted on in the Senate on Tuesday.
Instead, the resolution calls for investment in “high-speed rail” as part of that envisaged transportation overhaul – with no reference to air travel – and refers to efforts “to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible.”
Lee said the initiative’s authors hearing his speech will protest that the goals of eliminating air travel and cows are not actually part of the GND but “merely were included in supporting documents accidentally sent out by the office of the lead sponsor in the House of Representatives.”
“This only makes my point: The supporters of the Green New Deal want Americans to trust them to reorganize our entire society, our entire economy, to restructure our very way of life – when they couldn’t even figure out how to send out the right press release.”
The GND was not an agenda of solutions, he charged, but “a token of elite tribal identity, and endorsing it a public act of piety for the chic and ‘woke.’”
“Climate change is no joke. But the Green New Deal is a joke.”
The solution to climate change, he said, was not the Green New Deal – but “babies.”
“Climate change is an engineering problem—not social engineering, but the real kind. It’s a challenge of creativity, ingenuity and, most of all, technological innovation.”
Lee quoted Tyler Cowen, economics professor at George Mason University, as having written recently: “By having more children, you’re making your nation more populous, thus boosting its capacity to solve climate change.”
“The solution to climate change,” Lee concluded, “is not this unserious resolution we’re considering this week in the Senate, but rather the serious business of human flourishing. The solution to so many of our problems, at all times and in all places, is to fall in love, get married, and have some kids.”
Reacting to Lee’s speech, Markey tweeted later, “When the Midwest is flooded and people have died because of climate-related extreme weather, it is shameful to joke about climate change. This is exactly Democrats’ point – Republicans only want to make a mockery of the climate crisis. We will not let them.”