Clunky but True

'Greedy Lying Bastards' still an important documentary on climate change Richard von Busack

I agree with everything Greedy Lying Bastards says, yet fans of the H. L. Mencken–style tirade will be unfulfilled.

Director Craig Scott Rosebraugh puts a human face on global warming through interviews with those who lost their homes in the Colorado firestorms, as well as citizens of sinking islands from the Arctic to the South Pacific. As a de facto follow-up to An Inconvenient Truth, it charts the well-paid backlash against greenhouse-gas limits, mostly funded by ExxonMobil and our old chums the Koch brothers, thus the millions to fund alleged think tanks and preposterously named AstroTurf organizations—wretched PR whores, busily exchanging tomorrow’s shame for today’s paycheck.

The graphics, slicker than deer guts on a brass doorknob, show serpentine lines of connection between institutes, mega-corporations and the U.S. government. Cutouts of the offenders spring up with a sound-effects—boing! There is also the token scene that needs exiling from all political documentaries immediately: the director trying to get some villain of a CEO on the phone and making a crying-clown face as the receptionist tells him to go away.

The biggest take-away is the problem of what Rosebraugh calls “assertion”: it takes a far shorter time to state a lie than it does to correct it. Considering that the bill for human recklessness is already coming due, there is something criminal in the smooth-faced ignoramuses (usually the same five or six nonscientists) blaming climate change on volcanoes. You feel the frustration of Congressman Henry Waxman trying to fight not just paid liars, but also his fellow legislators. As it was once said of the Ohio Legislature, the oil companies have done everything to Congress but refine it.

There were 31.6 billion tons of CO2 released in 2011, and meanwhile “experts” add to the grim total, jetting from studio to studio to lie the truth out of school. The film does good work reminding us of who these people are, anyway.

‘Greedy Lying Bastards’ opens Friday, March 8, at the Century Regency 6, 280 Smith Ranch Road, San Rafael. 415.479.6496.

Sonoma County Library