Rush Limbaugh, the nation’s leading talk-show host and normally a strong supporter of President Bush and the Republican agenda, today ridiculed the administration’s apparent flip-flop on global warming, wondering aloud before millions of listeners whether things would have been much different had political nemesis Al Gore won the presidency.

The unusually harsh critique of the administration by Limbaugh followed the release of a climate report to the United Nations detailing specific and far-reaching effects that the Bush administration now says global warming will inflict on the American environment. In the report, disclosed by the New York Times today, the administration for the first time mostly blames human actions for recent global warming. It says the main culprit is the burning of fossil fuels that send heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Limbaugh accused the Bush administration of ignoring and undermining many good scientists who have expressed contrary views on global warming.

“I don’t believe there is any conclusive evidence of global warming,” he said. “And I certainly don’t believe that it can be attributed to human activity – and particularly not by activity by the United States. That is the political agenda behind the global warming scare. It is an anti-West, anti-U.S., anti-free enterprise movement.”

Limbaugh accused the administration of trying to score political points with political opponents at the expense of the truth and the U.S. economy.

The new document, “U.S. Climate Action Report 2002,” presents a sharp contrast to previous statements on climate change by the administration, which has always emphasized the need for much more research to resolve scientific questions.

Without a news release or announcement, the new report was shipped last week to the United Nations offices that administer the treaty and posted on the Web.

Some callers took Limbaugh to task for his criticisms of Bush, pointing out how much better off the United States is today than it was under the previous administration.

“Should we compare ourselves to where we were under Clinton?” Limbaugh asked. “Is that the standard we as conservatives should use to determine how we as a nation are doing? That’s not a very high standard. Anyone could do better than that.”

Limbaugh asked callers what, if anything, would be different if Gore had been elected. He conceded that the nation is more secure and that military morale is higher. But he had trouble – and so did callers – coming up with any other substantive policy issues that are being handled differently than they might have been under a Gore administration.

“I don’t enjoy this,” Limbaugh said. “But I am a conservative. I’m criticizing the administration over policy issues. It’s not personal.”

Limbaugh said he considered not mentioning the global warming report yesterday. He also said he considered joking about it.

“But I decided to do what I always do – tell you exactly what I think. It appears to be the hijacking of conservatism. George W. Al Gore, anyone?”

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