The easiest bet

The other day, I wrote about how the former news agency Reuters got it totally wrong on an alleged “report” about the Kyoto Treaty and US President George W Bush. Briefly, Reuters repeated its cherished whopper that Bush pulled the US out of Kyoto after he became president in 2001.

He didn’t, and I wrote about what really had happened. And I predicted that

Reuters and many other news outlets will repeat this horrible error again, including this week.

And they have. This time another former news agency, the Associated Press did it in a report on an appearance at North Carolina State University  by Chelsea Clinton on behalf of her mother, who is running for president:

[Chelsea] Clinton told about 250 people at NC State that her mother, New York Sen Hillary Rodham Clinton, would work to repair the nation’s reputation abroad.

“I think the world will breathe a sigh of relief when this president is gone,” Clinton said, criticizing Bush for pulling out of various accordings, including the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

(Can someone explain to me what is an according? I bet the AP cannot.)

Anyhow, no. Once again: Bush did not pull the US out of the Kyoto Treaty. He couldn’t pull the US out, because the US was never in. (It never will be in, either, not under President Hillary Clinton or any other US president. The US will no more join the Kyoto Treaty — under any president, at any time, under any circumstances — than… well, than it will pull all troops out of Iraq next year.)

I hate to do this but I am actually going to cite a Wikipedia entry on this stubborn, sticky urban legend nonsense about how Bush pulled the US out of Kyoto. Yes, I know, I feel even more strongly than you about Wikipedia, but this is an excellent précis which summarises the entire relevant history of the US and Kyoto.

It is factual, and of course it can be fact-checked and re-checked in literally hundreds of other places — including the one I gave in the original piece below. In fact, in these three paragraphs, there are three primary sources cited, which is a start if you want to do some research instead of taking the taradiddles of the uninterested people drawing quite decent salaries from the media while repeating easily checked disinformation:

The United States (U.S.), although a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, has neither ratified nor withdrawn from the Protocol…

On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98), which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States”. On November 12, 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol.

Both Gore and Senator Joseph Lieberman indicated that the protocol would not be acted upon in the Senate until there was participation by the developing nations. The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification.

Reasonable people can disagree about the Kyoto Treaty. But they can only make sense when they accept the facts. The claim that Bush pulled the US out of the Kyoto Treaty is not true just because once-respected news agencies repeat it as mantra.


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