By Christina Ianzito
April 15, 2016

With just one week to go before some 130 countries sign a landmark agreement to tackle climate change at the United Nations, a group of roughly 150 naysayers gathered Thursday in Congress’s Rayburn Building. They were there to see and discuss “Climate Hustle,” a documentary that purports to bust the “myths and hype” and expose man-made global warming to be a hoax.

But the bigger draw at the event may have been one of the panelists, Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska who remains a star, albeit a controversial one, in conservative circles. The overwhelmingly sympathetic crowd—this was invitation only—murmured in agreement and chuckled at her anecdotes about liberal “fear-mongering.” Palin wasted no time, attacking “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” (Nye, a science educator, is the host of a popular children’s science show.)

“Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am,” Palin said. “He’s a kids’ show actor, he’s not a scientist.”

(She made the remark after a brief clip was shown of Nye, in which he said, good-naturedly, that he hoped climate change deniers will be rejected by the American people.)

Palin bemoaned the fact that children are being taught to embrace the premise that humans are causing climate change. She added this is why “it’s so important for parents to be a greater influence than the schools.”

Palin was joined in the panel discussion by David Legates, described as a “the former Delaware state climatologist,” and Marc Morano, who runs ClimateDepot.com, for the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow (known as CFACT), co-producer and funder of the film.

Critics contend CFACT is a shill for Big Oil, though Morano claims that 85 percent of CFACTS funding comes from “individual donors.” (Mother Jones has included it among “The Dirty Dozen of Climate Change Denial.”) The screening was held in the meeting room of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, whose chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tx), endorses the film.

The moderator, conservative activist Brent Bozell, lobbed softballs at Palin. Palin’s environmental stances have included calls for more drilling in the Arctic Ocean and, she noted at the event, keeping polar bears off the threatened species list.

“I want life to be better for mankind,” Palin explained, “and that takes developing our natural resources.”

The discussion was being filmed to accompany Climate Hustle when it’s screened for one day at some 400 cinemas around the country on May 2.

The movie itself is a long 75 minutes, featuring various scientists who’ve either never believed in manmade global warming, or have gone rogue—disputing what is near consensus among scientists and therefore becoming virtual pariahs in their field. While the vast majority of scientists agree that climate change is largely caused by the estimated 2 billion tons of CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels and other human activities, Climate Hustle, which has an oddly jaunty tone, scoffs at such alarmism.

Climate Hustle was cowritten and narrated by Morano, a former spokesman for the most best-known climate-change denier in the senate, Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe.

At a reception after the screening, which Palin didn’t attend, Morano said he felt an urgency to produce this film, now that “President Obama has bypassed Congress” with environmental legislation, and “little rules are slipping in through the EPA.” The film is meant to be “a reality check,” he explained, adding that he’s already working on a sequel.

Update: An earlier version incorrectly stated the number of theaters showing the film. The correct number is 400. This story also was updated to include mention of the clip of Bill Nye.

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