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A debate over legislation that would create a cap and trade system for greenhouse gases drew big names--and testy temperaments--to Capitol Hill on Friday.

Former Vice President, Senator, Nobel laureate and 2000 presidential popular vote winner Al Gore was on hand to champion the bill, which he called a "moral imperative" and "one of the most important pieces of legislation" ever before congress. Republicans, of course, were eager to challenge the global warming champion.

When Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) pushed ideas proposed by climate change skeptics, Gore likened him to an investor ripped off by Bernie Madoff: "With all due respect, I believe you have relied on people you have trusted who have given you bad information. I don’t blame the investors who trusted Bernie Madoff, but he gave them bad information." Barton rose to prominence last week for his apparent ignorance of the basic concept of continental drift, and eagerness to brag about having it explained to him by posting a video of the exchange on YouTube.

More contentious was an exchange between Gore and Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (who has previously made it clear she prefers to be called "congressman"). When Blackburn pointed out that Gore has invested in companies that stood to gain from the passage of the bill, Gore stated that he had donated previous earnings to environmental causes.

Gore: "If you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don't know me."

Blackburn: "I'm not making accusations. I'm asking questions that have been asked of me."

Gore: "I understand exactly what you're doing Congresswoman. Everybody here does."

Did we mention she doesn't like to be called "congresswoman"? Video of the exchange, complete with Al Gore chuckles, can be seen here.

Even former House Speaker and likely 2012 presidential contender Newt Gingrich showed up to assail the legislation, calling it an "energy tax" that would "punish the American people."



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