Gohmert! Louie Gohmert himself!
This is what I mean when I call the Republican Representative from Texas the most epically stupid government official to blight not only the history of the United States, but almost certainly the world – by which I mean the whole history of the world, stretching back to before pottery and the domestication of livestock. Recorded here during some sort of Congressional hearing, Gohmert, presumably weary of doing nothing all day but claim that the January 6 insurrection wasn’t really all that bad, has moved out of his comfort zone to address serious matters of policy, and has some suggestions he’d like to share about climate change.
On the plus side, his comments here seem to indicate that he’s not denying that climate change is real, or at least hypothetically possible.
The big minus is that his grasp of the science is a little, er, shaky. Like, shakier than you’d expect. Worse than your average Republican, even. Worse, one suspects, than any pre-schooler who’s taken in an episode or two of Sesame Street, or maybe watched a Bugs Bunny cartoon featuring Marvin the Martian.
Somewhere along the line, it seems, Gohmert once had some sort of conversation with somebody at NASA, perhaps about climate change, possibly about something else, in which he gathered that the orbits of the Earth and its Moon vary somewhat over time. This is not only true, it’s almost relevant, and I wonder whether the connection here is that the person from NASA, not realizing who she was talking to, tried to explain to our Louie that climate is indeed influenced over the long term not just by solar activity, but also by never-ending cycles in the path that our planet traces around the Sun, as well as a constant, slow modulation in its angular orientation to the flow of solar energy. These variations, known as Milankovitch Cycles, occur at an almost indiscernibly gradual pace, and involve changes in the tilt of the Earth’s axis (obliquity), gradual reversals in the planet’s hemispheric tilt toward the Sun (precession), and the relative circularity of its orbit, which goes from less to more egg-shaped, then back again (eccentricity). The overlaps of these cycles, which interact over very lengthy time spans stretching as long as 100,000 years, are thought to correlate to significant climate change, and the waxing and waning of ice ages. This may explain a lot of the Earth’s pre-history, and Louie might have liked the idea of climate change that wasn’t the Koch brothers’ fault, but what’s going on with the global climate now is of course a much different, and sadly much less protracted phenomenon, resulting from all the carbon we dump into the atmosphere. Still, same ballpark, kind of. Maybe the NASA person was trying to put all that in terms Gohmert could understand. Perhaps he showed the Congressman a chart like this – pictures always help:
What Gohmert seems to have taken away is that when it comes to climate, the natural fluctuations in the Earth’s orbit are certainly important, and perhaps sometimes dangerous, but – brace for it – that’s manageable because it’s within the power of the Forest Service (!), or perhaps the Bureau of Land Management (!!), to make some adjustments. To the orbit. Of Planet Earth. As if maybe they’ve got some sort of Planetary Helmsman in the basement who could give a couple of turns to the old wheel, and there you go. No joke, he’s perfectly serious as he asks the witness whether the National Forest Service has considered doing the obvious thing, and changing the orbits of the Earth and the Moon, thus fixing any climate problems that might be a threat to all those trees under federal management. “I would have to follow up with you on that one, Mr. Gohmert”, responds the momentarily nonplussed woman from the Forest Service, after a pause to consider. One can imagine the series of responses that flashed through her mind, only to be serially rejected as she struggled to come up with something politic, like:
I’m sorry Congressman, could you maybe give your head a shake and then ask a more sensible question? Or,
If you could just lean a little closer to the camera sir – I need to check if your pupils are fixed and dilated. Or,
We looked into that a couple of months ago, actually, but all the simulations ended with your district buried under two miles of ice. Or,
That’s very good Louie! Are Mommy and Daddy home? Can you go get one of them to come to the phone for some boring grown-up talk?
I suppose if we liked, we could be giving Gohmert one of his namesake awards every other day, but that’s not really the purpose of these things. The whole premise is that poor, befuddled Louie is an established Class A Cretin, which is a brute fact that everybody understands, and thus needs no further emphasis. He wasn’t supposed to be a winner. The idea was to honour those sometimes under-appreciated chowderheads who come closest to (if never quite matching) his sublime imbecility. This is a special case, though. It’s not just that he asks a branch of the federal bureaucracy to tinker with the Earth’s orbit. It’s that he asks the National Forest Service. Not NASA. Not the shiny new Space Force. Not even the IRS.
Such simply cannot go unrecognized.