Climate & Clean Energy
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#5: Is climate action worth getting kicked out of Congress?

Published on
June 21, 2022
Show notes

In Episode 5, Quinn and Brian conclude (for now!) their conversations with conservative climate activists, asking: Is climate action worth getting kicked out of Congress? Uniquely qualified to answer is former Congressperson Bob Inglis of South Carolina. Bob’s the founder of, a small government, free-enterprise, "we need to save the world" climate action group. Hear how he’s trying to move the (very heavy) GOP needle, and what could possibly persuade current conservatives to risk their seat to save the planet.  Also discussed: sailing, Brian running a marathon vs. Bob, ill-timed construction, and angry juice cleanses.  Want to send us feedback? Tweet us, email us, or leave us a voice message! Links:  Bob Inglis on Twitter Bob’s TED talk Alfred Coffee Quinn Emmett on Twitter Brian Colbert Kennedy on Twitter Intro/outro by Tim Blane Subscribe to our newsletter at! Like and share us on Facebook! Check us on Instagram! Follow us on Twitter! Pin us on Pinterest! Tumble us or whatever the hell you do on Tumblr! Ok that’s enough good lord


Quinn: Welcome to Important, Not Important. My name is Quinn Emmett.

Brian: And my name is Brian Colbert Kennedy.

Quinn: And today's topic is how do we get Republican office holders over the fear of losing their seat when standing up for climate action, or something like that, because Bob Inglis did it.

Brian: And he got voted out. Right? Which doesn't help or I don't know, maybe it does help. That was over six years ago now, and things are different. And the clock is still ticking. Cities like Houston getting pummeled. California is burning, just burning up.

Quinn: It's like 86 degrees today.

Brian: And we're literally at the start of this all.

Quinn: Right. So this is the second in our little trilogy of conversations with conservative climate activists. And you might be asking yourself, you're a couple progressive assholes, why are you talking to them? Why are these conversations and these specific people so vital? And it's because we won the easy battle, guys. You and all your friends, us and all our friends ... I mean, my friends and Brian. There's no more liberals to convince. Getting conservatives on board whether they hold office or not. Meeting them in the middle, and this is the hard part, we have to be very strategic in how we approach them, how we frame the case for action. And we have to be much more comfortable with the means that justify the end. The end being radical action that saves the planet, of course. 

Quinn: But, if we do get them, Brian, I mean, technically if we win back the Senate and the House and get enough of them to make change, well, then we're in business and we've got a shot at this thing.

Brian: And honestly, whatever the hell gets us there at this point.

Quinn: And that should be the mantra, right?

Brian: Yes.

Quinn: We have to be more comfortable with a compromise on the means to get there. We need these folks. And most of them are actually good folks. We might disagree on quite a number of other platforms, but there's actually a number of really attractive places to meet in the middle, where they are, and where they've always been.

Brian: Our guest today is congressman. He's a congressman.

Quinn: Former.

Brian: Oh yeah, that's right, he's a former congressman.

Quinn: The whole thing. He got voted out because ...

Brian: We just talked about this.

Quinn: Yep.

Brian: His name is Bob Inglis. He's the founder of Republic EN. If you haven't heard of that, check it out, we talk about it a ton in this episode. He's walking the walk, man. And he's been walking the walk for a long time, and he's still at it. He's got some really good ideas for how we can-

Quinn: Great ideas.

Brian: ... each get some conversations going with the people who believe in free enterprise and smaller government.

Quinn: Right? Like crazy Uncle Bob. 

Brian: Crazy Uncle Bob is still there. He won't shut up.

Quinn: You know what else won't shut up, Brian?

Brian: Uh.

Quinn: The fucking construction downstairs.

Brian: Yeah. We have construction in this building right now.

Quinn: It seems like they are past the infrastructure part and they're onto ... well, were doing dry wall, which was fine. I don't understand what's happening down there now. It's as if ... I thought if you held a drill, if you ran it for too long, it would basically ignite in your hand. It seems as though this one has been going since, I don't know, yesterday?

Brian: Maybe they have futuristic special power drills that don't explode.

Quinn: Sure. Yeah. Those are probably good for the environment.

Brian: Maybe. Yeah. I would say that maybe they're just dragging it out to work longer and get paid more, except that we met them and they're such sweethearts.

Quinn: They're so nice. 

Brian: Unbelievable.

Quinn: They're so nice. They offered to come in the next day, 4:00 AM, to make it easier for us. I didn't ask for that.

Brian: Yeah. Like, they brought that suggestion up.

Quinn: Yeah, I know. They brought that. They shouldn't come in that early. That's terrible.

Brian: They're so sweet.

Quinn: They're so nice.

Brian: What's that main guy's name? Do you remember?

Quinn: I have no ...

Brian: Such a nice man.

Quinn: I'm a nightmare with names.

Brian: Yeah.

Quinn: Nightmare.

Brian: Yeah, you are.

Quinn: I have a list of people in most recent order if I've met them in my contacts because I have a horrific OCD. And if I saw them on a street, I couldn't tell you what their name is. No idea. And part of that is just having children in my life. It's like a gaping black hole of forgetfulness. But it's also just like, I don't know, brain damage. 

Brian: I need to figure out some way to like ...  you know how people have little tricks, right? They see a person, and they meet them, and they're like-

Quinn: It just seems like so much work.

Brian: I don't know.

Quinn: I think one of them is, like, you got to match somebody's name to an acronym of the Shit in your house. And like, what the ... No.

Brian: That seems like a lot.

Quinn: I barely remember to feed my children in the morning.

Brian: I just feel bad when people come into the bar that haven't been there in a month, and somehow they're like, "Hey Brian." And I'm just like, "Oh, yeah."

Quinn: But here's the thing, the numbers are against you. They only have one bartender to remember. You got to remember 50 drunks.

Brian: It's hard, man. It's really hard. Whatever, they'll get over it.

Quinn: Well, listen, our faults aside, and there's many. Let's talk to another conservative-

Brian: Yeah [crosstalk 00:05:05] talk to this guy.

Quinn: ... and try to make an impact, try to make some headway here. Let's go talk to Bob.

Brian: Let's get to it.

Quinn: All right. Rock and roll. Our guest today is former congressman, Bob Inglis, from Republic N. Today we're going to get to the bottom of how to get current GOP office holders to risk their seat and stand for climate change action. So let's find out who he is. Congressmen, welcome.

Bob Inglis: Great to be with you.

Quinn: Yeah, absolutely. We're really excited to have you and really appreciative of you giving up your time.

Brian: Very much so. Thank you, Bob.

Quinn: So as always, we want to set the tone before we get into it. We want to have fun. We do have fun, but we do want to dig deep. We're going to talk a little bit about your history, and how you got to where you are today, and then dive into our main topic of the day. We have sort of an ethos with why we're doing this, which is we're big believers in questions, but questions that don't provoke action or basically just philosophy. As I'm sure you'll agree with, these are times that call for action. And so, that's where we're trying to go. 

Quinn: What we're trying to provoke here from the hyper local level, to the federal level, to the global level. What do we want to do is we want to get some context from you, the why of the change facing our listeners, and then progress to some actionable steps that our listeners can take. Something that will inspire them to get to work at whatever level, at whatever party they subscribed to. So, Bob, two questions for you. Who are you? And instead of asking what you do, we like to ask sort of provocatively why are you vital to the survival of the species? We'd like to encourage you to be honest and be bold, you're here for a reason.

Bob Inglis: Well, first of all, I'd say, that your listeners really are the key to this because it's not so much that we're asking Republicans to risk their seats or to potentially lose their seats in Congress for acting on climate change, but in fact rather that people would rise up and support them as they seek solutions on climate change. In other words, it really all starts with us. A lot of us like to complain about the congress. We say, "Oh, they don't listen to us," and "They're no good," but congress has just like us and they listened to us very, very carefully. What they hear us saying is, "Well, we went a little bit of talk about climate change, but don't do anything that's going to change my life." And so congresses says, "Oh yeah, we got that. We're pretty good at that. You want us to talk and do nothing. All of us are really pretty good at that." All human beings are good at that.And so, congress is not any different than us.

Bob Inglis: We are committed to gathering together conservatives, especially who can help support those conservative members of congress so in fact they don't lose their seats, they stay in Congress, and continue to lead in this challenge of dealing with climate change. That's where we start at So, who am I? I was this guy that was in Congress for six years, out six years, doing commercial real estate law, came back for another six, thought I was going to be a lot longer than six on that second go around, we called it English 2.O, the new and improved version, But the tea party decided in June of 2010 that it was most definitely not a flavor that they liked. And so they spewed me out.

Bob Inglis: I was tossed out of Congress in June of 2010, losing in a Republican primary because of various heresies. But my most enduring heresy was just saying that climate change is real and let's do something about it.  Restarting right then, '11, when I got tossed out or when I finally left office in '11, I started this effort that's now called And it's all about gathering conservatives to climate action.

Bob Inglis: Why am I important to the species? Well, because I guess so far we're seen as very unusual zoo animals, we conservatives who care about climate change.

Brian: Those are the best ones Bob.

Bob Inglis: But what we're trying to do is gather the species together so that elected officials can see, "You know, that's not quite such a rare bird." There really are a good number of these people that are actual conservatives who believe that the way to fix climate change is simply to bring full accountability for emissions to all of us in a transparent, accountable marketplace. And then consumers in the liberty of enlightened self interest, once they're seeing the true cost of energy at the meter and at the pump, will make really good decisions. The result will be, innovation will happen, and we'll clean up the air, and we'll fix the climate challenge.

Quinn: If only it were all that easy. I do love it, though.

Brian: It sounds great. Let's just do it everyone.

Quinn: It's funny, we almost kind of stumbled onto this, but I really believe in sort of the direction we've taken with our past few conversations with Jerry Taylor and Reverend Mitch Hescox and you. Because, we don't need to convince our listeners to take action. As Jeremy pointed out, that easy battle has been fought, getting evangelicals or Republican voters or GOP seat holders on board is really the last big step. And that's what's going to make the big difference. Jerry had a great point, which is, a lot of the times, if not most of the time here, it's about the messenger, not the message. And that's why we feel like folks like you are really the ones that are going make the big difference here.

Bob Inglis: Yeah. And, of course, even if your listeners are more progressive than the crowd that we're trying to gather to the cause, they still have an uncle in Spokane or an aunt in Omaha that needs to be convinced. So if they're in relationship with somebody, they can help us reach that aunt and uncle. It's also true that progressives do need to take a further step, which is to figure out, "Okay. Then how do we do it? What is a way to fix climate change?" And what I hope that progressives come to, is the conclusion that Al Gore has been right for these 30 years he's been working on it-

Quinn: Oh, Lord, don't say that so loud.

Bob Inglis: ... which is just to price carbon dioxide.

Quinn: Sure.

Bob Inglis: Do a carbon tax pair it with a dollar for a dollar reduction in other taxes, apply that tax on entry to imports after we get challenged in the WTO World Trade Organization, after we win that case, then it's in China's interest to do exactly what we're doing, and then the whole world is in on this deal, and we've got 7 billion people demanding innovation. It's a solution that, as I say, Al Gore has been for, for about 30 years. We're for it at We think that it is completely consistent with what Milton Friedman, a father of modern conservatism would tell us to do. In fact, we've had a number of events where we ask the question, what would Milton Friedman do about climate change? And the answer which he gives on the Phil Donahue show, probably neither you nor Brian are old enough to remember who Phil Donahue was.

Quinn: I do fairly. But thank you.

Bob Inglis: But for your listeners who are too young to remember, he's basically a white guy doing an Oprah show in the '80s from Chicago, like Oprah was. He used to have Dr Friedman on. And on one of his great shows he says, "Well, what do you do about pollution then, Dr. Friedman?" Milton Friedman says, "well, you tax it, of course. You put a price on it." And he goes on to explain in that show very eloquently, and resonates with anybody who's truly a conservative, because what Dr. Friedman says is, "You need to internalize the negative externalities," which sounds like really big economic term, but basically what it means is show all the costs in a transparent marketplace of a product.

Bob Inglis: Don't let any of the costs be hidden. Don't let me at Inglis, coal-fired electricity getaway with dumping my sweat on my neighbors. Make me hold my ash on my property and in my stacks, but when I'm hearing a complaint, "Now that's going to make the price of my electricity go up." Then you should say back to me, "Inglis, we are currently paying the full cost of your coal fire electricity. We're paying through a healthcare system, where your neighbors lungs get fouled and they go to the hospital. We pay through Medicare and Medicaid, and on our own insurance policy, and to cost shift. We pay all right, Inglis. Be accountable. Hold that ash on your properties. Scrub your stack, be accountable for the climate damage you're causing, put it at the meter, and then let's see how you do, compare it to solar and wind and nuclear. And maybe, Inglis, your coal-fired electricity is actually very expensive. It's not cheap like you've been telling us all these years."

Quinn: Right. When you consider all of the costs.

Bob Inglis: Right. And then it's not a regulation. The government coming in and trying to regulate me at Inglis coal fired electricity, it's rather just the consumer saying, "Hey, now I see. The coal fired electricity is actually pretty expensive. I think I'll choose this solar. I think I'll get some solar cells. I think I'll choose wind if I had the choice to in a way to reach to wind power." And then you've got consumer driven demand and that's the fastest way to innovation as we've seen in, for example, cell phones. It's consumers who get innovation happening.

Quinn: Sure. And it's consumer and demand. But at the same time, innovation coming from business and really how to apply best to free enterprise, one of the things we talk with Jerry Taylor about is ... Right now there really is a lack of incentives for businesses, at least American businesses to innovate in the clean energy space, much less, I guess, to get them on board is one thing, to get them to innovate and be progressive about it as another. For example, if we looked at carbon capture, where are the moonshot funds for that. How do we create more of an economic incentive for free enterprise to lead the way on options like that and say, "Hey, this isn't just great for the world. This isn't just the sciences. You need to do it because obviously those things haven't moved the needle, but this could also be the most massive industry of all time, and you could benefit from this greatly."

Bob Inglis: Yeah, you're onto something there. I mean, we do have to figure out how to actually get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere at this point, particularly, with the melting of the permafrost, we are risking a feedback loop, that means that, really, we do have to get active on getting it out into the atmosphere, getting CO2 out of the atmosphere. But I would say, it starts with you and me and everybody else in the world seeing the true cost of energy, and then, us having the self interest to choose products that don't cost us as much because they don't have the emissions that we have to pay for it and be accountable for. So it starts there. It probably, in the case of capturing CO2 out of the atmosphere, involves serious research and development expenditures by the government, and some sort of moonshot activity. 

Bob Inglis: We like to say that the moonshot was the proof that free enterprise system beat the Communist system. It's also true that that moonshot was a huge government program, and rightly so.

Quinn: I think the space program for that period, at least that beginning catalysts period was something like 4% of GDP. And right now, I think it's less than 1%, something like that. I don't think people appreciate how vastly different that amount of money is.

Bob Inglis: That's the kind of focused commitment we're going to need on climate change. But, like you say, let's start with getting the meter right and getting the pump right. And if we do that then the government expenditures on research and development about technologies have a shorter path to commercialization because once the economics are fixed at the pump and at the meter for each of us, then we're going to be choosing those products more quickly and their adoption as technologies is going to become more rapid. As it is now ...

Quinn: And theoretically those are going to be more predominantly the only products available because the other options have been priced out of the market.

Bob Inglis: Right. And so, right now without a price on carbon dioxide, which basically, we're just saying, "Okay, it's fine with us. Go ahead and dump on us. Just dump on us, dump on our kids future. Go ahead. We have no self respect." As long as you let me get away with it, Inglis coal fired electricity, I'll keep on dumping on you. When you say "No, we have self respect, and we're saying in Inglis, you be accountable for all your emissions," then it changes things. Then the alternatives become possible and the carbon capture becomes more possible. No, still, it doesn't take away from the fact that we need some technological breakthroughs on how to accomplish that.

Bob Inglis: Also, I shouldn't make the point while we at are real big on free enterprise solutions, and obviously we think that free enterprise is the answer here, let's just be clear though, it starts with government action. It starts with government being the honest cop on the beat that says, "Okay. All costs in all subsidies removed. Now, you fellows and ladies compete honestly and openly. It does start with government. It's not like suddenly in the free enterprise system, everybody's going to say, "Oh fine, yeah, we're going to deal with climate change." No, that doesn't happen. 

Bob Inglis: What happens is, when the government steps in and says, "Okay, now everybody is accountable, and you're going to pay for the damages you're causing." It's sort of like in the cities that you and I live in, they all charge trash haulers for space that they take up at the dump. Why? Because, well, otherwise you're subsidizing that trash haulers business. You're letting him or her get away with filling up the city dump, and then the city having to use public resources to build a new dump. So what we say to that trash hauler is, "You got to pay for the space you're taking up, because we're going to have to build a new dump someday, and you're going to pay for it because you're the one filling it up." Same thing with the air-

Brian: Yeah. Why should that be any different.

Bob Inglis: ... right now, we say, "Oh yeah, go ahead and dump on us."

Quinn: Because it's not tangible to people. It's not the same, you can't see a dump filling up or say "This one's full. We've got to make another one." It's just, it's air. It's, "Oh, the ocean is getting warmer. I can't see that. I can't touch that.

Bob Inglis: Right.

Brian: Even if there's tools to prove it.

Bob Inglis: [inaudible 00:21:49] prove it, we open up a hole in the bottom of the food chain, and a billion people around the world depending on the ocean for food, start picking up and moving from a place like Bangladesh and Pakistan into other countries that don't like them, then we've got a real problem on our hands. And that's why the Pentagon is so worried about climate change.

Quinn: It seems like the biggest platform with Republic EN, which I got right, and I apologize for pronouncing it 'republic-an' in the beginning, is a carbon tax, which makes a lot of sense to most folks. And to do that, like you said, we need the government to, at the very least, have a role and actually create, enforced this level playing field, and then to implement this tax. So that requires players in Congress to, not just vote for it, but to get on board with it early to push this sort of thing. That requires folks who are willing to stand up and make that sort of motion.

Quinn: So, when you were in Congress, you supported the bailout. You were against the troop surge in Iraq, you approved Joe Wilson's outburst against Obama, you posed off shore drilling more in the surveillance, all those things. I mean, you even wrote an op-ed in the New Yorker, which I'm shocked the Republicans didn't hunt you down just for emailing the New Yorker. But it seems like the climate change thing, and do you feel like, was the thing that turned against you when the tea party came after you? Was that the thing that really drove you out? Because that's going to give us perspective and give our listeners perspective of how difficult is it for folks who are in Congress today. And again, that was six years ago, almost seven years ago now, which is crazy, why aren't folks holding Republican seats standing up and doing more about this. If as Jerry Taylor said, there's a lot of unnamed congressmen who do believe in this and do believe there needs to be action. Why aren't they standing up? Do you believe that's why you were voted out?

Bob Inglis: Well, yes. You were confessing some of my sins. My sins against Republican orthodoxy. You had a pretty good list going there. I don't think you listed TARP though. I voted for the rescue of the banks by President Bush, and that can never be forgiven by the tea party. All those for my heresies, you really did just listed most of the things. One other a heresy is probably really being for comprehensive immigration reform and voting for the DREAM act. So I committed some heresies. I confess it.

Brian: Good on you.

Quinn: Sure. But, like you said in your TED Talk, which we loved is, if you're not willing to lose your seat in Congress, there's very little reason to be there. And no one's asking everybody to be radical, but it's a recognition of doing what's right, and like you said, it starts with the constituents. And when so many constituents now especially these young folks, and I know there's a lot of awesome young conservative environmental groups that are out there. But if the folks that are saying, "Please, take action on immigration," or "Please, there is a clock ticking on the environment and energy," and also businesses could participate and benefit and profit from this. Then how do we get more folks like you that are currently there to get past the fear of getting voted out and to start to act on climate change?

Bob Inglis: Mostly, I think we need to gather together all these zoo animals like me, a conservative who cares about climate change, who are considered rare birds and show that, no, actually they're not so rare. We got Jerry Taylor, we got Mitch Hescox, and we get a lot of people that know and are their friends because they are great guys, and there are a number of folks out there that really do believe this. And there is Jerry Taylor here in Congress too.

Quinn: Do you have conversations with folks that are currently in Congress and what are those like?

Bob Inglis: There are good number of members of Congress. I can't out them-

Brian: Name them.

Bob Inglis: ... until they out themselves that are concerned about climate change. They want to do something, but they are frightened at this point of the folks at the county Party Convention for the Republican Party, because right now the dominant narrative there is, "This is only something that the left cares about. It's not what the right cares about." We think at that mostly comes from two things. One is an undeserved inferiority complex that Republicans just think there are no good on energy and climate, but they actually are very good. So when you don't think you're any good at something, you try to change the subject, right? Every time Brian talks about this silly marathon he wants me to run, and I don't want to run a marathon. I've been at the end of marathons. I've seen the scene at the end of those things. I don't want to look like that.

Bob Inglis: So I change the subject and I say, "How about a little swim or something," Something that I feel like I might be able to beat Brian at. And so what happens is that's what goes on in climate, is Republicans think you're no good at climate. And so they shrink in science denial. What we rise to tell them is, "No, you're very good. You got the answer. Listen to Milton Friedman, he'll tell you the answer."

Quinn: Right. This guy's been the answer. That hasn't changed. 

Bob Inglis: And Lo and behold, it's the same answer that Al Gore's for. And isn't it something that we could actually bring America together. That Al Gore is basically saying exactly what Milton Friedman said. That's the first thing we fight. And the second thing is that Republicans haven't heard yet that it doesn't take a bigger government to fix this problem of climate change. What Republicans have heard is first they heard that the godless scientists got together with the UN bureaucrats, they roped in the Wall Street traders and they came up with this monstrosity called cap and trade, which by the way, I voted against.

Brian: Yeah, you did.

Bob Inglis: Because it's ridiculously complicated. The thing about that paragraph is, it's unattractive to a conservative. And then the secret [Muslim 00:28:40] non-American socialist in the White House, actually, he's none of those things, he came up with a regulatory answer. The clean power plan. Well, we're not into regulation is conserved.

Quinn: Not so much.

Bob Inglis: You see, both of those expeditions weren't funded by Republicans. So what we need to show them is, "Oh, there's another way. The other way is just to put a carbon tax on, pair it with a dollar for dollar reduction in taxes elsewhere so there's no growth of government. Apply it at the border for import, so that the other countries get in on the deal, and then watch the free enterprise system innovate, deliver innovation faster than government mandates the regulations could ever imagine." That's a story that singable in conservative circles. Once they hear that song sung that way they'll hum along.

Brian: That was beautiful.

Quinn: I know. That was really beautiful. Who needs to sing that song to them besides your singing and Jerry's going, "Hey guys, look, I fucked up. I wrote all your old slides telling you to say this stuff and this is the light." And the reverend is going to the young folks and to the evangelicals and saying, "You know what? Don't even worry about the science. But, let me tell you, this is why your kid is sick, and this is what you can do to fix it. This is why you need to take care of the land, because that's what it says to do in the New Testament." When does that start to have effect? What else can we do to help that have an effect? Is it like the Reverend said, "For progressives to get out of the way," and to literally send him money to do his job? Which is fine. If that's the answer, then that's the answer. Is  supporting Republic En, and letting you guys do your job.

Quinn: Because, this is the one thing that we have ... There is so much important stuff. Civil rights are so important. There's so much going on, on a day to day course that affects this country, that bounces back and forth from different tax reform to civil rights. But, this is the only thing with a real ticking clock and it's one we, like you said, unless we figure out a whole hell of a lot of science for carbon capture, we can't really go backwards on once we do get things down to zero maybe one day if we get there. But we need this message to start getting through ASAP. And I think that's at least where we, and our listeners, are getting the most frustrating going like, "You idiots, Why can't you see this? The science ... " Yada, Yada. I think that's the default message because we see and hear and now feel, and we're paying for as a country, this ticking clock already affecting us and going, that's fine, we can sing the song, but when are they going to start to sing? When are they going to look up and go, "You know what? My constituents are saying, I should do this. I feel like I should do this. I need to stand up and do this because the clock is ticking."

Quinn: Houston got destroyed. Puerto Rico's without power. Like you said, without anything to say about the island countries in the Pacific that are gone, the outer banks of North Carolina, New York City, Miami. Those places in 25 years are underwater. D. C. you know? We've already created so much damage and I think that's where the frustration is coming from is, is that all sounds great and we couldn't appreciate the work you guys are doing more, but it needs to happen faster and what do we have to do to support that?

Brian: Yeah. More than money, what we need at from your listeners would be just their interventions with their friends and relatives. And may suggest a way to approach those, that aunt in Omaha or the uncle in Spokane that you know we're conservative and that watch Fox News?

Quinn: And that's what we want here, by the way, to be clear, is what we want to finish with is a summary of what our listeners, literally action steps that they can take. And it's so helpful when folk like you say-

Brian: Here's what you need to do.

Quinn: ... literally, this is what you need to say to them because we're all, again, the end justifies whatever the hell the means are at this point. And if it's meeting in the middle, and it's, you take the reverend's point, and it's "The Bible told us to take care of the land and its bounty," Or is it free enterprise can win and hugely profit et Cetera, whatever it is, you tell us what to say and where to send the money.

Brian: Help me Bob.

Quinn: Because we're all convinced, but we recognize you are fighting a very difficult fight, and we appreciate it so much, but that's where we want to end, is what do we say to crazy uncle Bob who watches Fox News all day?

Bob Inglis: Well, what I'd say to the folks is, maybe what they can say for their uncle is, uncle or aunt, "You got to check out this thing called, because the people there are about as crazy conservative as you are. And look what they're saying about climate change. Look, they really believe that Milton Friedman was right. And that this can be fixed through the free enterprise system, where the role for government in making everybody accountable, doing this carbon tax pairing it with the reduction of taxes elsewhere, applying it to imports, and then you get 7 billion people around the world in on this deal. You can say to them and what I would say, really, is approach with saying, don't try to be the false apostle of conservatism if you're not an apostle of conservatism.

Quinn: No one wants me to be that.

Bob Inglis: Don't try to say to an uncle, "I'm just like you." No. Admit to them. "Listen, I'm a progressive and I know that, uncle, you're a conservative. I heard this guy on this podcast, here, I'll let you listen to the podcast, and he's like really a right winger like you. But listen to how he says that Milton Friedman would fix climate change." That's it. Just have them direct ... Please, your listeners, direct your friends and family members, your co-workers who you know to be conservative, who watch Fox, who listened to Rush Limbaugh, challenge them to come to our website and to see what we're saying. And to test it to see if it's real conservative. That's the first thing. Second thing ... or maybe I should reverse the order because the very first thing is not to approach-

Brian: We can mix it in editing, Bob.

Bob Inglis: ... breathless. Don't approach breathless, approach calmly. Don't come in to aunt and uncle saying, "Oh my gosh, we're all going to die next week of this climate change thing." It's like this. If the apocalypse is upon me, and I've got nothing I can do to avoid my fate, well I'll eat, drink, and be merry.

Quinn: Yeah. 100%. We can all do the same damn thing, to be clear. We've tried the breathless, that hasn't worked, and in fact it's turned them off even more. Not only is it not appealing is not neutral. And it, I am 100% sure contributed to this great partisan divide that is a nightmare, because now everybody on both sides sees it as, you either believe these seven things or you don't believe any of them. And that's not it. You and I, I'm sure disagree on many things despite your, like you said, heresies and you're voting number, I love a great conservative I can have a conversation with it. It's the best. Someone who can actually talk about Friedman and John Stuart Mill. 

Quinn: But this is the topic that matters the most, and we recognize that we have to be very tactful about how we go about this talking to crazy Uncle Bob. To be clear, I don't have a crazy uncle named Bob. I have lots of uncles and aunts. I'm not going to call anybody out here. But we want to appeal to them, and we want to arm our listeners to appeal to them at the basis level that we think will create any sort of action. It'll be the smallest foot in the door. What is that thing that's most appealing. 

Quinn: And I'm also curious, sort of, and we can talk about this a little bit. Both on a federal level or state level or at least the elected official level and also on a constituent level, what are the biggest obstacles that you run into? Because, like you said, we can't just go with people and say, "Existential threat is coming. We're all gonna die!" Because people will just drink and be merry. A lot of babies are born nine months later. But I imagine you run into plenty of obstacles. I imagine you still have a lot of difficulties among folks. Otherwise, this whole thing would be fixed. So I'm really curious about that because I think that would help give us some perspective as well.

Bob Inglis: I think the biggest difficulty and answer to your question is it's tribally marked, and so this is an issue owned by the left. And if you express an interest in dealing with climate change, then you're marked as a traitor to your conservative tribe because you've gone with the left, you've capitulated to the Left, you've acquiesced to the left. That's what we've got to change. We've got to be able to go to the middle school gym for the cheer at Spirit Week, "We got a solution, yes, we do. We got a solution, how about you?" As you shout across the gym to the other side, and then they sing it back. We got to come with that kind of a hopeful attitude that says, "Can we solve this?"

Bob Inglis: And so the other very specific advice I'd give to your listeners as they approach their relatives and coworkers is to not ask them if they believe in climate change, because they don't believe in climate change as though it were some kind of a religion. Rather, ask them this question, Can free enterprise solve climate change?

Quinn: It's a great question.

Bob Inglis: And just know that if you're talking to an actual conservative, they will noodle on that for a while, and I am surprisingly confident that they will come up with a solution that you were hearing from Jerry Taylor and you'd hear from us at a, which is a carbon tax, it's revenue neutral, and border adjustable. That's what they will come up with because it just makes sense to a conservative. Now, if you're talking to a populist nationalist, I'm sorry, but it's going to be rough for you. If your relative is a populist nationalist, you sort of have to wait for the fire to burn over here.

Quinn: And we know we're not going to get everybody, but if we can get over the crest of this wave and get more folks, like yourself, on board, that's what matters.

Bob Inglis: That's where we need to draw courage and encouragement here. We don't have to have all of the populist nationalist turn around and say, "You know, it was really silly for Donald trump to withdraw from Paris accord, and it's really silly for him to say it's a Chinese hoax and conspiracy." That's a lot to ask for people who painted their house purple in choosing Donald Trump as their president. And so, once you paint your house purple, you got to justify, you gotta say, "I really like purple, don't you? I really like it." If you made a more reasonable choice, like a shade of green that you're not sure you like now, then you can hear people say, "You know, I'm not sure you got the right shade of green there, Emmett, on that house," and you'll say, "Yeah, probably so. I probably should have painted the darker shade of green."But some people have painted their house purple, and they now have to justify that decision, so they are going to dig in. 

Bob Inglis: But the encouraging thing is we don't have to have everybody that painted their house purple to join us here. We can find the conservatives, the people who really know who Milton Friedman was, and who care what he said. Those people plus some progressives will be a majority. And we will be acting and America will lead the world to a solution. Eventually, the populist nationalist who painted their house purple will realize that, "Okay. Purples out. Let's go back to a regular color of a house," where we have people who believe in facts and a White House that actually uses factual information when they're answering questions.

Brian: It sounds incredible. Also, purple for a house is just not-

Quinn: Inadvisable. Look, again, it makes a lot of sense. I do really like the specifics you're getting into about saying, don't approach them breathlessly. I feel like we're talking about dangerous tigers here. And don't ask them if they believe in change and why don't they. And don't attack them. But to talk about, you know, "Hey, do you think free enterprise can solve climate change?" And encourage it, and frame it as, "Hey, if we come up with some great free enterprise ideas and we let government create an even playing field, and throw all of the subsidies out the window from seven-and-a-half thousand dollars for a Tesla to however many billions on oil every year from history, and make it a level playing field, and then get the hell out of the way, hey, if this thing works and it should because if it's taxed that heavily, oil goes out the window, then we don't need all these regulations. I mean this is like a conservative Christmas. It could be the biggest deregulation ever."

Quinn: That's the thing I want to appeal to. The ones I worry about, and again, I find that those are going to be the hardest ones to go after, and whether spending the time on it right now, like you said, maybe you just let the fire go out, are some of the more populous folks who couldn't tell you who Milton Friedman is or what he stood for.

Bob Inglis: So, really, it's four things. One is approach your conservative friends and family members. So, do approach them. Start the conversation. Second, approach calmly, not breathlessly, don't tell them that they're all about to die. Tell them, "We have a risk here, do you want to address it?" Third ask them not if they believe in climate change, but ask them if free enterprise can fix climate change, "Tell me what you believe and how we can fix it." And then the fourth and final thing I'd say to listeners who may be progressive, is open yourself to the possibility that free enterprise really can do this because there are many on the progressive side who would probably disagree with me and Al Gore, and who say, "No. What we need is a regulatory answer here. We got a scientific problem, we need to regulate down to that level," that's a respectable position, but it's not a position that's going to win any conservative support.

Bob Inglis: And so the thing that I believe will work, and apparently Al Gore also believes it'll work, is simply to price in the cost of those emissions to products, and then watch the free enterprise deliver the innovation. And if I could give your listeners just the hope on that fourth and final point that maybe they're thinking, "Well, Inglis, I don't know. I'm not sure I can believe in the power of free enterprise," let me give you an example. In the 1980s, AT&T asked McKinsey to tell them how many cell phones would be in service at Y2K, at the year 2000 How many cell phones would be in service? So Mackenzie thought and thought and investigated that matter, came back and reported 800,000. Well, the problem is that when Y2K came around, there were 800,000 cell phones going into service every three days. McKinsey missed it by just a little bit.

Bob Inglis: Now, in fairness to McKinsey ... you're maybe not old enough to remember what cell phones used to be, but they were in bags, and they had a cord on them, and they cost about a dollar a minute.

Quinn: I remember my old man's actual car phone.

Bob Inglis: Yeah. And the batteries didn't last long. No wonder McKinsey could come up with that conclusion. 800,000 by the year Y2K.

Quinn: We're at the bottom of maybe the greatest S curve of all time, and no one had any idea. 

Bob Inglis: Right. And so that's what we believe at is exactly what's going to happen on energy. Right now, there's only one guy ... because Owens Corning gave up on it, there's only one guy who's Elon Musk who thinks that he can sell you shingles for your roof to make electricity on your roof. But you price carbon dioxide and you watch how many people jump into that business of selling you shingles. It not only keep the water out of your house, but make electricity for you on your roof.

Quinn: Because it's a hell of a business.

Bob Inglis: Yeah. It's going to be so exciting. It's that effect, you could take that to your conservative friends that are watching Fox business and say, "Do you realize the opportunity here? We are going to make so much money, we're going to create wealth in America, we're going to create jobs, we're going to serve our customers around the world and improve their lives because that's what conservatives believe the capitalistic system does, it improves people's lives. If you serve people well, they're repeat customers, and they bring back all their relatives, and now you've got a big company. You're making a lot of money." And so this is exciting. It's not just a doom and gloom thing. It's like, "Wow, we're going to really have an exciting new world, where we say to the Middle East, 'See, if you can drink that stuff.' And we've got power on our roofs, and we're powering our cars like George Schultz." Ronald Reagan's secretary of state loves to say he drives on sunshine because he's got an electric car, and he's got a solar array, and that's how he charges his car.

Quinn: And that's Schultz. Yeah. It's incredible. It really is a shining city on the hill. It's just powered by sunlight now. So here is the elephant in the room, and please excuse the hammering down stairs. They're building a new furniture store. Free enterprise. Brian has a dartboard with a picture of Scott Pruitt on it. It's not pretty. It's not good. I don't think he's the only one.

Brian: You got one. Right, Bob?

Quinn: Brian's a bit of a realist on things actually getting done right now, at least until November of this year, which is part of the reason we're pushing so hard right now. He's just, I guess you could lean towards skeptic on all this message getting sold and people actually taking action.

Brian: Yeah, I would agree with that. I guess in this past year, your stance is really been the same for a while now. How's it going with Trump and Pruitt? Is it changing a lot for you and making the message you're trying to get across much more difficult?

Bob Inglis: Well, it is difficult. But I will tell you that, we've got to find silver linings in whatever clouds come our way.

Quinn: Every cloud?

Bob Inglis: Yeah. We go to try. So, for example, Donald Trump decided on Scott Pruitt's advice to withdraw us from the Paris climate accord.

Brian: I remember.

Bob Inglis: We think that's a terrible decision at Paris establishes a will, admittedly [inaudible 00:50:09] establish a way to get there. But solving every problem starts with a decision of the will to address it. Every solution starts at place. And so it's really crazy to withdraw. Here's the thing, as a result of him withdrawing, we got what some people call 'the Trump bump', which is that people more interested in checking out climate action, checking out solutions-

Brian: ... a bunch of scientists running for Congress.

Bob Inglis: ... because I think they felt rather naked and rather exposed. It's like this. When George Bush told us after 9:11 to go , and he was much ridiculed for that, but actually it was good advice.

Quinn: It did make a difference.

Bob Inglis: Because what he was saying is, "Continue your lives, do not give into terrorism. They want you to stop and to be fearful." But New Yorkers, all the time, now when they faced these bombings or whatever, they just keep about their lives because that's what you got to do.

Quinn: London, can tell you about that for 70 years now.

Bob Inglis: Yeah. You don't shut down. You keep going. And so, George Bush was criticized, but it's good advice. Now, the reason that we were able to go shopping back then is that we knew that they were great people, especially in the US military that were focused on national security 24/7, therefore, I could go shop. Contrast that with what happened with the withdrawal from Paris. You mean, nobody at the federal government is going to be looking into climate change?

Quinn: Not only that, they're literally scrubbing it from record. And this is, again, where ... I don't think it's heresy to say, but as much as it would've been great for everyone ... well, not everyone, for Democrats, and I got to be careful about the words I use here because progressives and liberals all feel differently, but the Democrats in general, if Hillary had won, we wouldn't have so many of these threats to the civil rights. Words wouldn't be expunged from the CDC vernacular, we wouldn't have pulled out of Paris. But, like you said, there also wouldn't be marches in the streets. There wouldn't be organizations, shit, like ours. There wouldn't be organizations like Run for Something or 500 Women Scientists or the Climate March or the Science March.

Bob Inglis: Or the Women's March.

Quinn: Or the Women's March. I've used this analogy before, and some folks get an apologies if it's not your ballgame, but Batman needed to have his back broken by Bane to fully come back-

Brian: This is incredible.

Quinn: I know. And he did, and he came back stronger. But the point is none of these things would have happened, and like you said, it's a bit of a trump bump because sometimes you need to be shaken into reality. And I feel like that's where a lot of this is, but that doesn't disregard the fact that, again, there is a ticking clock. It's easy to say, "How much damage can these assholes do in a year?" while they're emboldened by all of the houses of government, but it's a lot. And, yes, we don't actually technically withdraw from Paris until ... God, what is it? It's like the month before the next presidential election, something like that or the week before something ridiculous, so that's a little overblown. But a lot of damage can be done when we do have a ticking clock, and when you've got cities like Houston that are already going down on the mainland. 

Quinn: It's easy to feel desperate, and look at these guys and go, "Oh my God, not only are they not proactive, they're not even neutral. They're destroying anything we have. Yes, the regulations and the clean power plan and the clean air act are complicated and cumbersome, but God, it's something. It's something. And that's kind of where everybody is right now is, it's a little bit of something. But that makes me want to go, "Okay, well, then let's talk to crazy Uncle Bob ..." I mean, poor Uncle Bob.

Brian: He's really getting the shaft.

Quinn: Let's talk to crazy Uncle Bob and say, "Hey man, just buy some LEDs. It'll save you on your power bill." Let's start somewhere. Because I think that feels to me like the best way to channel our desperation at this point. If those guys aren't going to do it, how do we do it at the hyper-local level?. And apologies for the tangent. That's just kinda how I feel about the Pruitt et cetera situation.

Bob Inglis: Or the references to crazy Uncle Bob because here you're talking to Bob Inglis.

Quinn: No, Bob. No. That's not. No.

Brian: But you said Bob first, Inglis.

Bob Inglis: Let's make it clear, I'm not your uncle.

Quinn: Well, you challenged Brian to a marathon.

Brian: By the way, don't think I'm going to back down from that Inglis.

Quinn: Well, are there any civic leaders that you want to praise? Anybody that you feel like is doing strong work on this front?

Bob Inglis: Elected officials, you mean? 

Quinn: We'll take the full gamut.

Bob Inglis: Yeah. There are a number of mayors, of course, Carlos Curbelo is a member of congress who's the head of the Bi-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus. He's surely somebody that would be interesting to talk to. A member of congress of Miami is what Carlos. Carlos Curbelo C-U-R-B-E-L-O. Another who might be interesting is Mark Sanford. Mark represents the first district of South Carolina. Did an interesting thing recently, the South Carolina ETV. You can find it there so you can get a flavor of what he was talking about. He, he did a TV show with something called, South Carolina EVT. Mark just clearly describes how at his farm, which is in Dale of South Carolina, sea level has come up four inches in his lifetime. It's an interesting interview he's got there, and he'd be interesting to talk to.

Quinn: Sure. That's great. Anybody that is willing to ... whatever side it's on is willing, like you said, it starts with the will, and has actually taken some action or singing the gospel we're engaged with. Again, just trying to help crack this thing in a very, very important year when the clock is ticking. So, summary of, again, I think we've gone over it a few times, which is great. But of what our listeners can do to really take action without further deepening this partisan divide, which is, one, they should check out your website themselves, I think.

Bob Inglis:

Quinn: Yep. To educate themselves before they approach any of these-

Bob Inglis: Uncle Bob's and et cetera.

Quinn: Which is to make them accountable, to lose subsidies, to help government get out of the way. And then, two, to actually approach them in a calm way, not in a breathless way. Don't ask them if they believe in climate change, but ask them, "Can free enterprise solve climate change? Can we brainstorm some ideas together." And then encourage them that this is a way to throw every regulation out the window. It could be the biggest deregulation ever, and what are some ideas that they have? What are ways that they feel could get that started? Those feel-like conversation starters at the very least. Where before it doesn't seem like anybody's having conversations.

Bob Inglis: Yes, that's exactly what we need him to do. And then the fourth thing, it says, open themselves up to that solution themselves and realize that we got to figure out a way to make this work for conservatives. They are the indispensable partners in the indispensable nation. We've already seen in Waxman-Markey that you really can't run this through just on the left. As Obamacare, all the repeal efforts and now essentially the tax reform that is going to probably do it in, that if something is passed completely on one side of the aisle, it's probably a temporary victory. Every durable piece of environmental legislation that's been done in the United States has been done with bi-partisan support.

Quinn: I guess my issue is all of those things that were done, that was a different time.

Bob Inglis: It was. But I'm convinced that the times, they are changing. There was a song about that.

Brian: Are you sure.

Bob Inglis: This is a temporary problem I think we've got, where I think that we are going to be taught at some point that this isn't working for us, that this kind of polarization is kind of "We're Shia. You are Sunni. We're going to behead you," is just not going to work. And so we've got to stop it. When it stops, we think that it's going to be important for us it or to have people in districts, 25 house republican districts, and help with 15 senate republicans situations to supply the votes for a price on carbon dioxide. That make it bipartisan, that make it durable, and America would then be leading the world to a solution.

Bob Inglis: It's really a pretty exciting opportunity. All you can hope for in your career is being big enough, being about something big enough to be about. And so, this is really an opportunity for all of us to be about something big enough to be about. It is big enough to be about, which is solving this climate challenge.

Quinn: Absolutely.

Brian: I'm up for it. All right, Bob, we have a few questions for you. It is sort of the last few that we ask everybody for the lightening round. All right?

Bob Inglis: Okay.

Brian: All right. First, how do you consume the news?

Bob Inglis: Mostly, by updates on my computer.

Quinn: Okay. All right.

Brian: Very good.

Quinn: Like a millennial, Bob.

Brian: Yeah, right? Look at you. And then, we love this. Are you reading anything right now? What books are you reading?

Bob Inglis: I'm reading the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

Quinn: How good is that?

Bob Inglis: Well, I'm just at the start and it's just sort of a frightening.

Quinn: It's a good one. It's raw, but It's a good one. 

Bob Inglis: It's raw. Yeah, raw is a good word for it.

Brian: All right, Bob. And then, besides reading, what are your hobbies? Non non-work stuff.

Quinn: Not saving the world.

Brian: Besides saving the world.

Bob Inglis: I love sailing in my yacht, which is a use to sunfish that I got for $240. 

Quinn: What? What kind of free enterprise deal is that?

Bob Inglis: It's my favorite boat in the world.

Brian: 240 ... American dollars?

Bob Inglis: And the great thing about a sunfish is there's almost nothing that can go wrong with it.

Brian: Wow.

Bob Inglis: So that's one of my favorite things to do. I'm somewhat of an exercise fanatic, so I love to work out at a price. Some people don't like to hear that actually to enjoy it. It's my favorite time of the day.

Quinn: Brian, he's going to just massacre you in this marathon.

Brian: Yeah, I'm now going be a little intimidated.

Bob Inglis: But I do not want to run a marathon. It's Bad for the knees to run 26 miles in my view.

Brian: I went sailing once and I threw up over the side of the boat, Bob. I need Dramamine. I can't handle it.

Quinn: That's fair. So, Bob, last question. I think we've done a lot of this, we really appreciate, but how would you like to use this podcast to probably a different group than you're used to speaking to, to really speak truth to power, to reach across the aisle, to empower our listeners.

Bob Inglis: I think mostly it's to ask your listeners to, in that first item I'm constantly referencing, to open themselves up to the idea that, really, we can't just talk about this, we can't make it a divisive political issue, we can't use this as a political wedge against the right. Come forward with a solution, and can you embrace this solution that conservatives will ultimately embrace, which is a simple pricing of carbon dioxide. And if you make it revenue neutral, conservatives can join. Yes, I want to hope for your listeners to contact their conservative friends and family members. But I also hope that the words here change their view to saying, "We're not going to make the mistake that was made in Washington state in the rejection of a carbon tax because that was a big mistake."

Bob Inglis: I hope that people on the left learn their lesson of Washington State's initiative. That it was a disaster for that thing to go down. And it shows it that if you're really going to seek a solution, you got to do addition and multiplication. You can't do subtraction and division. There's a real lesson to be learned there. I hope that in addition to reaching conservatives, we also reached progressives with the idea that, really, how much could you give so that you could get your conservative aunt and uncle to come along.

Quinn: Absolutely. Well, Bob, this has been tremendous. We really appreciate your time. Where can our listeners follow you online? 

Bob Inglis: Twitter, you can find me there @bobinglis. And you can find me on Facebook.

Quinn: Very excited.

Bob Inglis: And you can definitely find us at

Quinn: Perfect. Well, Bob, again, thank you so much for your time today, and for all that you're doing. Again, it's been a little bit of a recurring theme for us here, somewhat accidentally, but now we really do believe in it, that this is the hardest fight, but also the most important one. Everybody else is onboard, and you guys are going to make the real difference. We are actually relying on the folks you're speaking to everyday, and that means we're relying on you hundred fold. So, good luck, and keep kicking ass out there. We'll definitely keep checking in with you.

Bob Inglis: Great. Look forward to talking more.

Brian: Us to. Thank you so much, Bob.

Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guest today, and thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute or awesome workout or dish-washing or a fucking dog walking late at night that much more pleasant. As a reminder, please subscribe to our free email newsletter at It has all the news, most vital to our survival as a species.

Brian: And you can follow us all over the internet. You can find us on twitter @importantnotimp. Just so weird. Also, on Facebook and Instagram @importantnotimportant. Pinterest and Tumblr, the same thing. So check us out, follow us, share us, like us, you know the deal. And please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to things like this. And if you're really fucking awesome, rate us on apple podcasts. Keep the lights on. Thanks.

Quinn: Please.

Brian: And you can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player, and at our website, Thanks to the very awesome Tim Blane for our jam and music, to all of you for listening, and finally, most importantly, to our moms for-

Quinn: Making us.

Brian: ... have a great-

Quinn: Day. Thanks guys.

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