Which is it, senator?

Last week, Sen. Ron Johnson, who sits on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, insisted he is not a “climate-change denier.”

CNN’s K-File uncovered a recorded speech from just a few weeks before Johnson’s “denier” denial, in which the Wisconsin Republican told a GOP women’s luncheon that climate change is “bullshit.”

He mouthed the offensive word. But to hear Johnson speak at that event, the dirty words are “climate change”:

‘I don’t know about you guys, but I think climate change is — as Lord Monckton said — bullshit,’ the Wisconsin Republican said, referring to British conservative climate change denier Lord Christopher Monckton. ‘By the way, it is.’

Though data collection is evolving and the timeline to act to slow Earth’s temperature climb can feel like a moving target, the mainstream scientific community has long warned about man-made climate change that’s largely linked to fossil-fuel burning
Man-made climate change aggravates natural shifts in the atmosphere and on Earth. A record-bursting, deadly heat wave in the Pacific Northwest and a bone-dry Western U.S. are among the latest examples of how climate change creates weather extremes.

“[T]here are more and more scientists” writing books “just laying [climate change] to waste,” said Johnson at the luncheon speech. He questioned why the country was focused on the climate crisis at all. “What are we doing here? Well, we’re killing ourselves … [and] it’s a self-inflicted wound.”

Johnson did tell CNN, after the luncheon video had surfaced: “My statements are consistent. I am not a climate-change denier, but I also am not a climate-change alarmist. Climate is not static. It has always changed and always will change.” 

Johnson is up for re-election in 2022 and said last month he remains undecided on whether he’ll seek a third term. Several Democrats are vying to flip the seat in a Wisconsin that’s become a key swing state.

See: If Sen. Ron Johnson is running for re-election in Wisconsin, it appears he’ll do so as a culture warrior

Johnson has posted on the topic on his own site.

There appear to be few “deniers” on Capitol Hill. Some 180 bills that include “climate change” or “greenhouse gases” in their language have been introduced in the House and Senate, proposed legislation that’s been generated from both political parties, according to GovTrack.

President Joe Biden has made climate change a policy priority, through executive order and, more recently, as a part of large infrastructure bill whose rewrite cut out the bulk of environmental efforts. The White House has since said that budget bills and other means should keep climate change at the fore. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission are giving climate change closer scrutiny as they steer the economy and financial markets.

Biden, on Wednesday, had his own response to Johnson:

A majority of Americans, tracking climate-change science, continue to say they see the effects of global warming and other factors in their own communities and believe that the federal government falls short in its efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change, Pew Research Center said in a recent survey and report.

Read: Is the Surfside building collapse a ‘gray swan’ climate-change event?

Broad majorities of the public — including more than half of Republicans and overwhelming shares of Democrats — say they would favor a range of initiatives to reduce the impacts of climate change, including large-scale tree planting efforts, tax credits for businesses that capture carbon emissions and tougher fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles, Pew said.

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