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Page added on December 30, 2007

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Bush finally warms to warming

At end of term, in search of a greener legacy, president highlights warming

People find all sorts of ways to lobby President Bush. Sometimes it comes in the form of a handwritten note slipped into his hand during a bill-signing ceremony.

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) tried that last week when Bush signed energy legislation that will curb greenhouse gases. “Congratulations and good work,” Carper recalled writing. “By the way, Joe Lieberman and John Warner have a very good global warming bill that needs your support and you ought to support it.”

Bush tucked the note into his pocket and promised to read it later. Carper hoped he would find it at the end of the day when he slipped his suit off. No one knows what effect such a note might have, but it was just one more small foray in a battle for Bush’s attention that has been raging for years, one in which European leaders, American governors, corporate executives, evangelical preachers and key lawmakers have pressed him to lead what they see as a bid to save the planet.

For years, Bush bristled privately at what he considered sky-is-falling alarmism by the liberal, elitist Hollywood crowd. The clatter over climate change, according to friends and advisers, seemed to him more like a political agenda than a rational response to known facts. But ever so gradually, they say, Bush’s views have evolved. He has found the science increasingly persuasive and believes more needs to be done, especially after a set of secret briefings last winter. A former aide said Bush’s staff even developed models for a market-based cap on greenhouse emissions.

Now Bush bristles not at the Hollywood types but at the notion that he does not care. At an end-of-the-year news conference, he spent more time answering a question on climate change than any other inquiry, outlining his approach in detail to dispel the notion that he does not have one. “I take the issue seriously,” he said, later repeating the phrase. “And we’re developing a strategy that will deal with it, and an effective strategy.”

Washington Post

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