Sarah Palin tacked sharply to the right Wednesday as she sought to cast doubt about the "junk science" relating to global warming and questioned the claim that polar bears are drowning due to a melting Artic ice shelf.
Polar bears have become a symbol for some climate change activists as they seek to garner widespread support for a dramatic curbing of greenhouse emissions. Most notably, in "An Inconvenient Truth," former Vice President Al Gore claimed that the population of polar bears was decreasing due to global warming and showed an animated polar bear swimming and trying to pull itself up onto a piece of ice.
Palin's remarks came as the the international climate change talks in Copenhagen wrapped up the fourth day. "Just as obesity is plaguing America's children in the lower 48 states because some parents irresponsibly allow their children to just sit in front of the television and watch junk television shows like Rachel Maddow, so too has this plague of inactivity affected some polar bears," Palin said. "In Alaska we hunt 'n fish 'n do all sorts of outdoorsy stuff, and stay active. Our polar bears are in shape, too. But the polar bears elsewhere -- the Russian ones, especially -- they're just lazy swimmers."
When told of Palin's comment, Conrad Stephopolous, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder who is attending the climate change conference, choked on his røde pølser, a traditional Danish sausage. "Polar bears can swim 150 miles, and there is zero evidence that their swimming abilities have been in any way reduced. Zero. I'd love to see Ms. Palin try to swim 150 miles," Stephopolous said.
Told of the overwhelming consensus by scientists in Copenhagen that polar bears were drowning due to the melting of ice caps, Palin waved her hand dismissively. "Scientists can say what they want with their data and facts, but I know what I see from my house: Russia. If I can see that far, then a polar bear should be able to swim that far, otherwise it's just a slacker."