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When snowball fights reach the Senate floor

Congratulations, America. Snowball fights have reached the floor of the institution once known as the world's most deliberative body.

Sen Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a staunch opponent of claims that humans have contributed to climate change, took to the Senate floor Thursday to make his case with an unconventional prop. "You know what this is?" Inhofe asked on the Senate floor, holding a recently-made snowball. "It's a snowball just from outside here. So it's very, very cold out. Very unseasonable." "So, Mr. President, catch this," Inhofe added before tossing the snowball to an aide.

Congratulations, America. Yesterday, a kind of snowball fight reached the floor of the institution once known as the world's most deliberative body.
 
In this case, Inhofe, one of the nation's highest profile climate deniers, believes a snowball found outside during the winter is proof of ... something. As Rachel joked on the show last night, "Obviously, the existence of a snowball in the winter time disproves climate change. Case closed, America. Argument over."
 
And while much of the public may find Inhofe's antics cringe-worthy, it's probably worse than they realize. Indeed, the context matters: Senate Republicans recently decided that the guy who thinks snow is proof against climate change should be the chairman of the Senate Environment Committee.
 
In other words, the GOP majority, recently elected by the public, is convinced Mr. Snowball should help oversee Senate policymaking when it comes to the environment.
 
In the midst of a serious climate crisis, that matters. I'm not inclined to explain, once again, why winter snowfall in the northeast does not contradict science, but I do think Senate Democrats have a point about the political significance of Inhofe's silliness.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on Thursday panned Sen. James Inhofe's (R-Okla.) use of a snowball during a speech on climate change. Whitehouse used his iPad to argue that a polar vortex was bringing cold air down to Washington in part because of warmer ocean temperatures. He said that you could either believe "every major American scientific society," the Navy, NASA, and Pope Francis that climate change is real or "you can believe the senator with the snowball."

Whitehouse's speech is online, as are remarks from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass., who was also eager to mock Inhofe's snowball.