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Longtime GOP Senator Passes Away

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


James Inhofe, a prominent Oklahoma Republican and a stalwart of the ideological right in the U.S. Congress, passed away at the age of 89.

Inhofe’s career was characterized by his opposition to environmental regulations and his ardent support of American military might. He famously dismissed climate change science as a hoax. The Tulsa World reported his death, citing sources close to his family. Details regarding services are still pending, the report said.

Inhofe was also an enthusiastic aviator, and in 1991, he notably flew around the world following the route that aviation pioneer Wiley Post had taken six decades earlier.

Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., described Inhofe on Tuesday as a “dear friend and mentor, a titan in Oklahoma, and a highly effective leader in D.C.”

“Tammy and I are keeping Kay and the rest of the Inhofe family in our prayers,” Hern said in a statement. “Jim spent his life in service to his country, both in uniform and in the halls of Congress. He will always be remembered as a fighter, especially for our military service members.”

Before his long tenure in the U.S. Senate, James Inhofe served as the mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s second-largest city, and then spent eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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He was elected to the Senate in 1994 and became the longest-serving and oldest senator from Oklahoma. Inhofe retired in 2023 at the age of 88, citing the long-term effects of COVID-19 as his reason for stepping down.

Inhofe was known as one of the most conservative senators, often using caustic language against his political and ideological opponents. As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, he was a leading voice for Republicans on climate change issues.

“You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that’s their strategy,” he said of environmentalists, scientists, and public officials who embraced the theory that manmade emissions are changing the earth’s climate. He said the strategy reminded him of “the Third Reich, the big lie.”

For the record, few people will argue that the planet’s climate patterns are not changing. However, many, if not most, are not convinced that man-made activity is the cause.

For decades, left-wing groups allied with the Democratic Party have made apocalyptic claims about the world and the climate. In the 1960s, for instance, they claimed “overpopulation” would destroy the world, but today, most advanced countries are experiencing population decline.

In the 1970s and 80s, those same groups and political leaders alternated between “global warming” and “global cooling,” with mid-70s Time and Newsweek magazine articles famously warning of another “ice age.”

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Later, the same groups appeared to settle on the phrase “climate change,” with celebrities and politicians making wild predictions that the world would be put on a trajectory of destruction unless countries—the United States, in particular—adopted draconian measures aimed at ‘curbing emissions’ that financial experts said endanger the economy.

None of those predictions have come close to coming true, and Inhofe made a career out of exposing them.

In a radio interview to promote his 2012 book “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,” Inhofe, a conservative Christian, explained his views on climate change in religious terms.

“My point is, God’s still up there,” Inhofe said. “The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is, to me, outrageous.”

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Inhofe, who served as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was a staunch advocate for maintaining a strong American military presence globally and supported robust defense spending. He notably broke with a president from his own party, Donald Trump, by pushing through the annual defense policy bill in 2020, showcasing his commitment to defense issues regardless of political alignment.

In 2004, the United States drew widespread international criticism when images emerged showing the mistreatment of prisoners by American personnel at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, Iraq. The disturbing photographs depicted U.S. soldiers appearing to mock and degrade prisoners, who were placed in dehumanizing poses, including being stacked in a naked human pyramid and positioned in simulated sexual acts.

At the time, Inhofe said he was “more outraged at the outrage.”

“I am also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders crawling over these prisons looking for human rights violations while our troops – our heroes – are fighting and dying,” he said during a Senate hearing.

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