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The anniversary of Sen. Inhofe throwing snowball inside U.S. Senate that both sides love to troll

By Timothy Cama, E&E News reporter

“You know what this is?” Sen. Jim Inhofe rhetorically asked Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, who was presiding over the Senate one afternoon five years ago.

“It’s a snowball. It’s just from outside here. So it’s very, very cold out, very unseasonable,” Inhofe said. “So, Mr. President, catch this.”

With that, the Oklahoma Republican lobbed the snowball — to a Senate page, not to Cassidy — and into history.

The Snowball Speech, as it has come to be known, has since lived in infamy, which is notable for the author of “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.”

The five-year anniversary of the speech was last month, but it still serves Inhofe’s opponents as a mocking illustration of the Republican Party’s climate change policy. For his supporters, it’s an epic troll against Democrats.

Inhofe and his staff frequently bring up that the snowball and the speech were not meant to disprove climate science by showing that snow still falls.

Instead, they were meant to mock Democrats’ focus on climate, which then-President Obama had recently told Vox is deadlier than terrorism.

It came at an important moment for climate policy. EPA was working to make final the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s signature climate policy, meant to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

He was also preparing for the United Nations’ climate summit in Paris later that year, which resulted in the Paris Agreement.

And federal officials had recently concluded that 2014 was most likely the hottest year on record — a conclusion Inhofe mocked with the snowball.

Marc Morano, a former Inhofe communications staffer from his earlier stint atop the Environment panel and climate skeptic who cheers on the mocking of Democrats and climate activists, said the speech was an excellent act of trolling, even if it didn’t change minds.

“He was having fun. It was a lot of fun,” said Morano, now an executive at the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.

“I don’t think it did anything; I just thought it was fun, and it was a great visual, and I think it really helped him,” he said. “It gave the debate a lot of fun. It gave them their boogeyman, and he had fun being their boogeyman.”