AT THE AWARD-WINNING seafood restaurant in downtown Cleveland thatThe Atlantic rented out for the entire four-day Republican National Convention, GOP Rep. Bill Johnson turned to me and explained that solar panels are not a viable energy source because “the sun goes down.”
Johnson had just stepped off the stage where he was one the two featured guests speaking at The Atlantic’s “cocktail caucus,” where restaurant staff served complimentary wine, cocktails, and “seafood towers” of shrimp, crab cakes, oysters, and mussels to delegates, guests, reporters and, of course, the people paying the bills.
The event was sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying arm of fossil fuel giants like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhilips.
Johnson, a climate denier and influential member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, spoke of a future when American scientists “solve these big problems” and “figure out how to harness the sun’s energy, and store it up, so that we can put it out over time.” His hypothetical invention, of course, is called a battery, and was invented over 200 years ago.
Instead of balancing Johnson with an environmentalist or a climate scientist,The Atlantic paired Johnson with another notorious climate denier: Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who is an energy adviser to Donald Trump. Cramer has calledglobal warming “fraudulent science by the EPA,” and once told a radio audience in 2012 that “we know the globe is cooling.”
Both congressmen went nearly unchallenged by the moderator, The Atlantic’sWashington Editor Steve Clemons, who said he wasn’t able to find an opposing speaker, but went ahead with the event anyway.