When Ted Cruz told NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to focus less on climate change and more on space exploration recently, Cruz was writing a new chapter in comedic politics.
It ranked right up there with Cruz reading aloud from "Green Eggs and Ham" to grandstand against the Affordable Care Act.
Cruz, a stubborn climate denier, is -- heaven help us -- the new chairman of the Senate's subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, and now he wants NASA to focus more on space and less on Earth.
Of course, the last time scientists checked, the Earth is part of space -- specifically, our part of space. Oh, but wait -- Cruz, like many other GOP climate change deniers, has already been quick to point out that he isn't a scientist. He just knows how to tell scientists what is and isn't real.
NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is one of the largest and most well-known agencies in the U.S. government. It has two clearly defined missions: Study space from Earth and study Earth from space.
Bolden, NASA's chief, tried to interject reason into the Senate subcommittee hearing where Cruz was invoking romantic images of children keening to be astronauts.
"We can't go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center [at Cape Canaveral, Fla.,] goes underwater," Bolden countered. "That's understanding our environment. It's absolutely critical that we understand Earth's environment, because this is the only place we have to live. Having had the opportunity to view it from [space] -- and as I look around I'm not sure anybody else in here has had that opportunity -- we've got to take care of it.
"The only way to take care of it is to know what's happening," Bolden persisted. "And the only way we know what's happening is to use instruments we developed in NASA. And we do it better than anybody else in the world. That allows us to get data to you and the Congress . We give you data."
Unfortunately, Cruz and far too many of his ultra conservative GOP cohorts seem uninterested in data.
Similar scenarios are playing out in other key committees.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- NOAA -- is under the thumb of like-minded Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the new chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, which oversees our primary weather and climate watcher.
And don't forget Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the new chairman of the Senate's Committee on Environment and Public Works. Watch out EPA. Inhofe is the serial science-denier who wrote a book on why global warming is a hoax. (Why? It contradicts the Bible, he says). Inhofe made new headlines recently for tossing around a snowball on the Senate floor, claiming the snow proves there's not global warming.
This trifecta of sad jokes is not just coincidental.
Follow the money. Two of Inhofe's top three campaign contributors were Devon Energy, one of the largest independent natural gas and oil producers in America, and Murray Energy, the largest independent coal producer in America, according to Planet Experts, an environmentally focused, news and social media website that provides science experts a platform to publish blogs, share photos and post videos. The third top contributor, by the way, was Boeing Co., an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures and sells airplanes, rockets and satellites, all of which run on fuel.
Cruz's second largest donor industry, behind the GOP and conservative interests, was oil and gas.
Clearly, science needs more advocates in this era of Republican majority.
Cruz himself, in the "more space-less Earth" subcommittee meeting, said, "Science needs to drive NASA's mission, rather than the political winds of Washington."
Somehow, he kept a straight face while saying it.