The Onion is going to go out of business because it can’t make up anything more absurd than our current reality. We must, as a country, find and punish the interloping time-traveler who has plunged us all into the worst possible timeline.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted on the Green New Deal resolution put forward by Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The measure went down 57-0, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell only brought it to the floor as a stunt for Republicans to mock it, because that’s just the kind of turtle he his. To protest, Democrats voted present en masse.
Even though 80 percent of Americans support most of the key measures in the Green New Deal, which calls for a massive public works investment in carbon-neutral infrastructure with the goal of net-zero emissions within 10 years, Republicans believe that they can poison it in the public debate.
No one demonstrated this more enthusiastically than Senator Mike Lee, who used his time on the floor to engage in a series of absurd prop-comedy stunts to attack the Green New Deal, delivering a bunch of lines sure to have Republicans splitting their sides.
Here are the five craziest moments in Lee’s totally bonkers speech:
- Gun-toting Ronald Reagan riding a velociraptor.
Yeah, be brought memes, you know, because that’s what the youths like!
“This is, of course, a picture of former president Ronald Reagan,” said Lee, gesturing at his board. “Naturally, firing a machine gun, while riding on the back of a dinosaur. You’ll notice a couple of important features here. First of all, the rocket launcher strapped to President Reagan’s back. And then, the stirring, unmistakable patriotism of the velociraptor holding up a tattered American flag. A symbol of all it means to be an American.”
“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,” Lee added.
This happened on the floor of the United States Senate in the year 2019.
- We’ll have to navigate Alaska using Tauntauns.
“The Green New Deal calls, essentially, for the elimination of airplanes,” said Lee. “How are we supposed to get around the vast expanses of, say Alaska during the winter? Well, I’ll tell you how. Tauntauns, Mr. President, it’s a beloved species of repto-mammals native to the ice planet of Hoth.”
“Not only are Tauntauns carbon-neutral, but according to a report a long time ago and issued far far away, they may even be fully recyclable and usable for their warmth, especially on a cold night,” he continued snidely.
No mention of course, of how bad they smell.
The Green New Deal does not eliminate airplanes. Lee is taking this from an FAQ sheet put out by AOC’s office that actually says the opposite: that the plan will require “net-zero” emissions rather than “zero” emissions because it does not anticipate eliminating airplanes, because they are pretty much unavoidably carbon emitters. As of now, this is not a practical possibility.
Lee was so busy ham-fisting a that Star Wars reference, that he didn’t bother to actually read the proposal he’s mocking with it.
- We’ll need Aquaman to help us get to Hawaii.
Oh, did you think that Lee was done mocking the straw-man argument of a world without airplanes?
Because he wasn’t!
“What about Hawaii?” he continued. “Isolated, 2,000 miles out in the Pacific Ocean … how are people there supposed to get to and from the mainland? And how are they supposed to maintain that significant portion of their economy that’s based on tourism? At that distance, swimming would of course be out of the question, and jet skis are notorious gas guzzlers. No, all residents of Hawaii would be left with is this. This is a picture of Aquaman, a superhero from the undersea kingdom of Atlantis, and notably here, a founding member of the Super Friends. I draw your attention, Mr. President, to the 20-foot impressive seahorse he’s riding. Under the Green New Deal, this is probably Hawaii’s best bet.”
The honorable gentleman from Utah
- The closest Utah has come to seeing climate change is Sharknado.
Lee went on to say that it is not that he doesn’t take climate change seriously. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “No Utahn needs to hear pious lectures about the gravity of climate change from politicians from other states. For it was only in 2016, as members of the SyFy network will well remember, when climate change hit home in Utah, when our own state was struck not simply by a tornado, Mr. President, but by a tornado with sharks in it. These images are from the indispensable documentary film, Sharknado 4.”
It’s like shitposting but in real-life. On the floor of the United States Senate! Because for some reason, Mike Lee thought that his constituents would be best served by tolling?
There are actually real climate change problems affecting Utah right now. The state’s winter precipitation has increasingly shifted from snow to rain, meaning flooding is increasing during the winter months, and because less of this water is entering aquifers, drier growing seasons in the summer.
All of this is making it harder for farmers in Utah.
If Lee wasn’t so busy making up graphics of Sharknado, that’s a problem his constituents might expect him to work on.
- The best way to fight climate change is to have more babies.
“The courage needed to solve climate change is nothing compared with the courage needed to start a family,” Lee said. “The true heroes of this story aren’t politicians, and they aren’t social media activists. They’re moms and dads, and the little boys and girls that they are, at this very moment, putting down for naps or helping with their homework, building treehouses or teaching them how to tie their shoes.”
“This is the real solution to climate change: babies,” Lee concluded. “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.”
Lee’s remark doesn’t even make a little bit of sense. Having fewer children, not more, alleviates climate change. Not to mention, birthrates are in decline largely because Republicans have been unwilling to make investments in anything that makes having a child or parenting affordable, from the social safety net, health care, or education.
I doesn’t seem to have been read this way in the media at large, but this read to me like Mike Lee subtly trying to tell Alexandrea Ocasio-Cortez to get a husband, pump out some kids, and shut up and get in the kitchen. Maybe that’s unfair, but who the hell can say what is going on in Lee’s head?
What is even happening? If someone tried to make this up, they would be laughed off the planet. But here is Mike Lee, Senator of Utah, thinking that he is nailing it with these pop-culture references and lazy, nonsensical arguments.
Did Lee not run this by anyone before he went on the floor of the Senate? Does he not have any friends of people on his staff who could say to him, “Dude, you’re going to look like a fucking clown if you go out there and do this”?
Stuff like this is what prompted me call this blog “Dispatches from the dumbest timeline.”