Saunders: Gov. McCrory sidesteps global warming issue

bsaunders@newsobserver.comFebruary 18, 2014 

Some of us are, a year into his governorship, still trying to figure out what Gov. Pat McCrory did while employed by Duke Energy for nearly three decades. It was a question he sidestepped during his gubernatorial campaign with footwork that would’ve made Gene Kelly, Victor Sylvester or a “Soul Train” dancer proud.

No one will have to guess what he’ll do upon returning to the private sector. I’m giving odds that he’ll become president – or at least spokesman – of the Flat Earth Society.

At one time, North Carolina was bestridden by colossuses of intellectual depth or at least curiosity, men such as Terry Sanford, Jim Martin and Jim Hunt. We used to be known as “the education state.”

Now, we have a legislature that wants to fund private schools at the expense of public schools and a governor who refers to the state’s citizens as customers.

‘Chopped off’?

He also goes on national TV and won’t admit outright what, according to NASA, 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists believe – that human beings’ actions can adversely affect the climate.

When “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer asked McCrory about global warming and a previous comment in which he said Earth’s climate “is in God’s hands,” McCrory claimed his comments were taken out of context.

“I think someone ... chopped off the total sentence there,” McCrory said.

No, they didn’t – unless the tape of the interview to which I listened was “chopped off,” too.

I’ve listened online over and over to an interview then-candidate McCrory gave in 2008 in which he said precisely that. Asked if he believed in global warming and what he’d do if elected to eradicate it, McCrory said, “I don’t believe in the, quote, ‘global warming debate.’ 

Freeze! Whenever someone says the word “quote,” you just know skepticism is dripping from their lips the way sweat is dripping from the disappearing glaciers. Do you reckon he made air-quotation marks with his fingers to really drive home the point that he thinks the “quote, global warming debate” is a liberal crackpot theory cooked up to stave off prosperity for the conscientious business community that only has the environment’s best interests at heart and would prove it if the darned old gubmint would just get out of the way?

A thawing?

In that 2008 interview, McCrory continued with this: “I think there are some things that are out of our ( inaudible, but I think he said ‘hands’).”

What followed, though, was very audible. “It’s in God’s hands.”

On “Face the Nation,” which – unfortunately for Tar Heel residents – is viewed all over the nation, McCrory then said, “I feel there’s always been climate change. The debate is really how much of it is man-made.”

That response actually represented a thawing of his previous intractability on the issue. It was still a less-than-stellar representation of our state.

California Gov. Jerry Brown was once dubbed “Gov. Moonbeam” for his slightly off-kilter lifestyle and way of doing and viewing things when he served as governor during the 1970s and ’80s. The dude eschewed the governor’s mansion for an apartment, drove a Plymouth from the state’s carpool instead of keeping a chauffeur-driven limo and slept on a mattress on the floor – presumably with his rock star girlfriend, Linda Ronstadt.

Trust me, kids. In the ’70s, that was viewed as off-kilter.

That, though, beats a governor who could be the next president of the Flat Earth Society.

Or Duke Energy.

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service