Oh no he didn’t!

This surprised aide was sitting behind cantankerous old goat Don Young (R-Alaska) during an especially testy verbal altercation between Young and history Professor Douglas Brinkley (Rice University). Their contentious exchanges took place during a Congressional hearing where Brinkley (starting at around 26:50 minute mark) was on a panel of witnesses invited to discuss drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Also participating in this hearing (which took place on November 18, 2011) was Erich Pica (Friends of the Earth), Laura Pagel (Earthworks), and Sarah James (Gwich’in Tribal Steering Committee).

I initially tried to crop and edit the best parts of this hour-long C-SPAN hearing, but there was no way to do it. Why? Because it’s just EXCELLENT, from beginning to end. And the whole premise of civility pretty much starts to unravel at the 29 minute mark, going completely off the rails shortly thereafter. The Jerry Springer Show has nothing on this hour of “must see TV.” At around the 30 minute mark, the verbal brawl between Young and Brinkley goes nuclear. I, for one, am going to read Brinkley’s book. His testimony and tone of voice literally drip with the contempt he feels for Young, and which so many of us share.

And even though this hearing is from 2011, the discussions about Keystone XL, Arctic drilling, subsidies for oil and gas, and the corporate hijacking of America’s military and democratic processes are timely and important.

Erich Pica (Friends of the Earth) is simply outstanding. I would be scared to be on the opposite side of a debate against Pica, Douglas Brinkley and perhaps Alan Grayson. It would be an environmental and common sense “dream team” versus most politicians.

At about the 41 minute mark, Pica is really attacked and mocked by Representative Andy Harris (R-Maryland) who attempts to make him look foolish and throw him off balance. Did it work? Not a chance. At around the 45 minute mark, there is an opening made in the hearing by Harris to discuss Keystone XL and Pica goes for it.

At around the 49 minute mark, Professor Brinkley gets one more opportunity to smack down Rep. Young (who had left the room). If there were a laugh track to go with this hearing, it would have been especially loud at this point. Representative Hastings, who is overseeing the hearing, keeps trying to force Brinkley to show some respect, but the renowned historian is having nothing to do with it. His anger and blatant disrespect must seem unsettling to these lawmakers. But for me, Douglas Brinkley and Erich Pica’s contempt for this process feels like the freshest breeze to have blown through that musty room in years.