So are those leaked East Anglia e-mails having much effect on the Senate climate debate? It doesn't seem so. Here's The Hill's Ben Geman:
Centrist Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) argues that the "climategate" e-mails should be probed on Capitol Hill, but the e-mails haven't changed her views on global warming.
“There appears to be sufficient controversy and concern that I think it warrants the Environment and Public Works Committee taking a look at it,” said Collins, a swing vote in the looming Senate fight on cap-and-trade, in the Capitol on Sunday.
She told The Hill that the e-mails, hacked from a British research institute, led her to check in with two scientists at the University of Maine on the matter. “They are disappointed at what appears may have happened, but they tell me it does not change their own conclusions or their own research,” she said. Collins still believes humans are causing climate.
And here's what Sheldon Whitehouse says about swing Democrats:
“I am not hearing anybody on our side, even the people who are more economically concerned about the climate legislation who come from coal states, that sort of thing, saying, 'What are we going to say about this, is this a problem?’ ” said Whitehouse, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee who backs fast action on mandatory emissions curbs.
I'll add one more data point: At a Senate energy committee hearing last week, Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, who has suggested he might be amenable to a carbon tax (if the proceeds were directly rebated to consumers), raised the subject of the e-mails to the panel of experts, and they all explained why various climate-science findings—particularly the widely held judgment that humans are warming the planet—are robust, depend on a wide array of evidence, and can't just fall apart because of a few e-mails. (A bit more on that here.) Corker seemed satisfied with that explanation and dropped the subject.
Granted, those Republicans who have always denied that humans are warming the planet are going to keep insisting that this is the scandal of the century—James Inhofe's all over this, naturally. And he's in good company: At the Copenhagen talks this week, the Saudi Arabia delegation has been arguing that the e-mails prove that fossil fuels aren't responsible for global warming. No shock there. But, for now, the e-mails don't appear to be actually changing anyone's mind on the broader issue.