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GOPers Muzzled in Copenhagen?

1:54 PM, Dec 17, 2009 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Isn't dissent patriotic? It was when Republicans were in charge. Now, though, Republicans are claiming that Democratic leaders are using the tactics of junior high school cliques to keep Republicans from sharing their views on climate change.

Ahead of President Barack Obama's trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, for the United Nations' conference on Climate Change, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has decided to muzzle the Republicans who traveled there as part of her congressional delegation, sources say.

According to four GOP sources, Republicans on the trip were told they could not participate in the official congressional press conference in the Bella Center -- the main conference space. Members of the congressional delegation had just completed a meeting with a senior environmental minister from India when the group was split into two. "We were told the press conference was by invitation only," says Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee. "It didn't take long before we realized that the Republicans were the ones who were not invited." The presser was open to Democrats only and Republicans were put on a bus back to their hotel. When Republicans protested and asked to use the US delegation's designated space to hold a press conference of their own at another time, they were told the space had been booked for weeks and their request was denied.

In addition to Blackburn, the Republicans who are part of the delegation include Representatives Joe Barton (TX), Jim Sensenbrenner (WI), Fred Upton (MI), Shelly Moore Capito (WV), and John Sullivan (OK). Several of these Republicans are skeptical about climate change and the claims of its advocates. Blackburn believes that they were excluded from the press conference and blocked from scheduling their own because of their views.

"When it comes to this debate, if you disagree with the left on global warming you're shut out of the debate," she said, pointing to the exclusion of dissenting views revealed in the Climategate scandals, as an example. "When we are at a meeting like this it's important that people understand that there are varying opinions among Americans and members of Congress."

A spokesman for Pelosi, Drew Hammill, dismissed suggestions that Republicans did not have an opportunity to get their views out. He emailed from Copenhagen: "There's so much press here you could hold a press conf anywhere, no need for a room." He pointed out that noted climate change skeptic Senator Jim Inhofe held an impromptu press conference last night.

Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, says: "With double-digit unemployment, the last thing we need is a job-killing 'cap and trade' national energy tax like the one Speaker Pelosi jammed through the House this year. I imagine she knows that and isn't eager for Republicans to remind the American people."