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Earth Day Special: Dr. Leah Stokes on President Biden’s Big Climate Wins

Earth Day Special: Dr. Leah Stokes on President Biden’s Big Climate Wins

This week on “The Tent,” Dr. Leah Stokes joins Daniella for a special Earth Day episode that unpacks how the Inflation Reduction Act's investments can help in the fight against climate change.

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In honor of Earth Day, Dr. Leah Stokes joins Daniella to discuss the environmental movement, the impact that the Inflation Reduction Act is having in the fight against climate change, and how to ensure the law’s funds are distributed equitably. Daniella and lead producer Erin also talk about Florida’s extreme new abortion ban and fallout from recent shootings at mistaken addresses.

Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone. Welcome back to “The Tent,” your place for politics, policy, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger. My co-host Colin Seeberger is off to Italy this week. So, here with me instead is lead producer Erin Phillips.

Erin Phillips: Happy to be here, Daniella, though I’d also happily trade places with Colin because Italy right now sounds delightful.

Gibbs Léger: Yes, it does. So, my sister lives in Rome, and I am jealous of her every day when I look at her Insta[gram] stories. So, I am super jealous that Colin is going to be eating and drinking all the things, but he deserves his break. So, good on you.

Phillips: Very Lizzie McGuire of you, Colin.

Gibbs Léger: Indeed. And if you don’t understand that reference, go watch the movie. However, since we’re here, I did get to interview Dr. Leah Stokes this week from the University of California, Santa Barbara in honor of Earth Day. We discussed the Biden administration’s strong climate response, the importance of environmental justice, and ways we can continue to fight climate change before it’s too late.

Phillips: Well, happy Earth Day to you and to us. I can’t wait to hear that. But first, let’s get to some news.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, and it’s another one of those weeks where we’ve got to talk about abortion, unfortunately.

Phillips: It is. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)—our show favorite, I would say—signed a six-week abortion ban late last week. He signed it in the middle of the night on a Friday night, a great time to sign a very important piece of legislation that impacts people. Here’s why this law is so god-awful. Let’s not beat around the bush: Most people do not know they are pregnant at six weeks.

Gibbs Léger: Hello.

Phillips: So, this ban pretty much entirely restricts abortion access in the state. The law also makes very slim exceptions for rape or incest. It requires women to have court documents or other proof, which—I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone—most women don’t have in those situations. This is a big mistake for Ron DeSantis. Voters across partisan lines in blue states, red states, purple states have been making it clear time and time again that they support reproductive freedom. And while it’s obvious that MAGA extremists don’t respect the rights of women, it’s beyond me why they refuse to learn the lesson that restricting a woman’s access to care is a losing message.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I mean, look no further than Wisconsin last week where [Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice-elect] Janet Protasiewicz won double digits with abortion rights as a big focus of her campaign. She did this in a state that went for Donald Trump in 2016. Now, I think Ron DeSantis is going to find similar pushback should he decide to throw his hat in the ring for president. And we all know he has those ambitions.

Phillips: We sure do.

Gibbs Léger: He’s in our neck of the woods this week on Capitol Hill to meet with House Republicans. But already, a top Republican donor has gone on record with the Financial Times saying he won’t back DeSantis and that he’s “unelectable” due to his stances on issues like abortion. Clearly, this is an extremism issue, not a partisan issue.

And voters are going to get even more frustrated with these bans, too, as the baseless lawsuit attacking the safety of medication abortion makes its way through the Supreme Court. And a quick update on that for our listeners: The Supreme Court stayed lower court rulings on the medication abortion drug, mifepristone, until this Wednesday, April 19. So, as of this taping, we don’t know where this will go next. What we do know is that some radical judges often seem willing to go along with MAGA extremists on this issue, disregarding science and fact in the process. Throughout this case, three Trump appointees have acted to deny the FDA [Food and Drug Administration]’s expert judgment, even though medication abortion has been used by more than 4 million women and was approved nearly 20 years ago. I think maybe Ron DeSantis knows that his own voting base is sick of radical attacks on long-held reproductive rights and freedoms. And perhaps that is why he signed his cruel and egregious ban in the middle of the night.

Phillips: Maybe you’re right, Daniella. Now, speaking of radical policies that are hurting Americans, we’ve seen some awful ramifications of our nation’s lax gun laws this week as well. I know you had a few words you wanted to say about some of the recent shootings.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I have got to get this off my chest. This past week saw two shootings of innocent, unarmed young people who made the grave mistake of being on someone’s property. Apparently in today’s America, that’s enough to get you killed. In upstate New York, 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis was shot and killed when the car she was a passenger in turned into the wrong driveway looking for a friend’s house. They didn’t get out of the car. They didn’t do anything else. But that was enough for Kevin Monahan to fire two shots into the car, killing Kaylin. And in Missouri, 16-year-old Ralph Yarl was going to pick up his younger twin siblings when he rang the doorbell of the incorrect house. He was shot in the head through the door by Andrew Lester, who was then alleged to have shot him again. His reasoning? Lester said firing his weapon was “the last thing he wanted to do,” but he was “scared to death because of his age, and the male’s size” is what police wrote. We’re talking about a 16-year-old boy, who didn’t even have the chance to open his mouth and say why he was there before he was shot. But he was Black, so Lester was threatened.

Now, these two stories have really hit home for me. My sister and I have been talking a lot about our childhood growing up and the things that we used to do, and how we would go door to door to neighbors and sometimes to people we don’t know selling various items for school fundraisers; how we would cut through people’s yards to get to our destination faster; and how the only thing you really had to be worried about was whether or not somebody didn’t tie up their dog and have those come barking and chasing after you. And there’s something extremely sad on top of being enraging about all of this. We are allowing the innocence of our children to be robbed from them, to be stolen from them, because politicians can’t stand up to the gun lobby. We’ve allowed these ubiquitous “stand your ground” laws to take hold. And they’ve emboldened people to shoot first and ask questions later with impunity.

Everybody should be outraged. I’m outraged. But I’m also terrified. I’m terrified of raising a Black boy in this country, of ever moving from the relative safety of the current bubble that I live in. I worry constantly about my teenage nephews—both great kids—but they are kids who are both over 6 feet tall. And no doubt they are seen as a threat to someone. But even living here in D.C., we may be safe from some of the racism that leads to a shooting like Ralph’s, but nowhere in this entire country are we safe from gun violence. And that is a thought that should terrify everyone. It should piss off everyone. And it should move people into action. I should not have to worry about whether or not my child is going to come home from school alive. No one should have to worry about that. And other countries that are industrialized, like ours, and other “first world” countries, they don’t deal with this. They don’t send their kids and worry about them dying at school.

What is it going to take? Honestly, what is it going to take? I don’t know the answer. And look, there’s nothing good about what has happened. But maybe—just maybe—these horrific shootings will at least cause people to take a hard look at “stand your ground” laws and what they are doing to our communities.

Phillips: Agreed, Daniella. As you said, there’s no silver lining, but if people can at least draw some meaning, some action, be motivated to make a difference and to actually take a critical look at our gun laws for once to the point where maybe we can have more rights for people like you and your family, like all of us, than for guns, we can only hope.

Gibbs Léger: That’s all we can do, I agree, is just hope. And we can fight. So, that’s going to do it for us this week on the news. If there’s anything you’d like us to cover on the pod, please hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod. That’s @TheTentPod. And stick around for my conversation with Dr. Leah Stokes in just a beat.

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Gibbs Léger: Dr. Leah Stokes is the Anton Vonk associate professor of environmental politics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is also a senior policy counsel at Rewiring America and co-host of the climate storytelling podcast “A Matter of Degrees.” Her 2020 book, Short Circuiting Policy, examines the role utilities have played in promoting climate denial and rolling back clean energy laws. In 2022, she was named an advocate on TIME100 Next and is one of Business Insider’s top 30 global leaders working toward climate solutions. Dr. Leah Stokes, thank you so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Dr. Leah Stokes: Oh, thank you so much for having me on.

Gibbs Léger: So, to start, I want to ask a really broad question as we come up on Earth Day. Where are we in the fight against climate change? And why is that fight so important now more than ever?

Dr. Stokes: Well, of course, climate change is a global problem. Carbon pollution comes from lots of different sectors all around the world. But the United States is the biggest polluter when it comes to our historic emissions. And you know, we’re still number two globally, so we have a lot of blame, responsibility, for this problem. And we can also be a big part of the solution. The good news is that last year in August, in 2022, the U.S. Congress for the first time passed a really big climate package, called the Inflation Reduction Act. And that package can put us on track to cut carbon pollution 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Why does that matter? Because scientists have told us that we have to cut carbon pollution by about 50 percent—by about half—in that time frame. So, this big package will basically get us 80 percent of the way there, four-fifths of the way there. It’ll get us that 40 percent cut, which is pretty close to the 50 percent cut that we need, and which also President Biden has committed to getting.

Gibbs Léger: So, let’s talk about the Inflation Reduction Act. In your opinion, how are the investments going as we’re beginning to see them distributed? And then, sort of as a follow-up to that, what do you think the administration and local elected officials could be doing or should be doing as they’re implementing all the things from the IRA to make sure that people understand exactly what’s happening?

Dr. Stokes: Yeah, so the Inflation Reduction Act is a really big package. Sometimes if you read the news, you’ll see a number like $370 billion. Believe it or not, that’s not totally true. Why? Because that’s just an estimate. Basically, when Congress passes a law that includes things like tax credits, they make a guess about how many businesses, how many people—homeowners, people like that, people who want to buy a car—how many people are going to raise their hand and say, “Yes, I want to build a wind or solar project?” “Yes, I want to put in a battery for storage,” or “I want an electric vehicle” or “I want a heat pump.” And they don’t actually know, right? Those are guesses, their projections. And so, the fact is, we’re probably going to spend maybe $800 billion, maybe a trillion dollars, a lot more money. It all depends on how many companies and everyday people raise their hand for climate action. So, it’s a lot of money.

And so, how do we think about the Inflation Reduction Act? Well, there’s a lot of programs. Even somebody like me, who worked a lot on this bill, who spends a lot of her time thinking about it, there’s certain parts of it that I don’t know really well. But let’s talk about overall what it does. It provides incentives to clean up the electricity sector, to help build more wind and solar. It provides incentives for homeowners, for everyday people, to get basically clean machines. Those are things like electric vehicles, heat pumps, even things like induction stoves. It also provides a lot of incentives to make clean technologies here in the United States, to start, really, the 21st century industries of the future with good-paying, hopefully unionized, jobs here in the United States on everything from electric vehicles to solar panels to batteries. Let’s make it all here. It also includes money to clean up the agricultural sector, heavy industry. I mean, the list goes on and on. It’s a very big and complex bill. So, that’s what it is.

And then, in terms of your other part of your question, how’s it going? You know, I think that there’s some goods and some bads so far. It’s really hard for the federal government to take such a complex bill and push it through all the steps that are necessary for it to be implemented. So, there are agencies, like the U.S. Treasury, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, that have to decide: How are we going to actually implement this? What does it mean to give people money to help them get a heat pump in their home? How is that program going to work? Or how is the tax credit for an electric vehicle going to work? They have to answer a lot of really technical questions. Now, on some areas, I think that they’re doing a pretty good job. So, the electric vehicle incentives, for example, were one area where Sen. [Joe] Manchin (D-WV) did not want to be very generous to the American people, which I disagreed with. But c’est la vie. And the Biden administration has made very smart decisions in terms of how they’ve been implementing the electric vehicle incentives to maximize how much money everyday people can get and to get those EVs [electric vehicles] on the road as soon as possible.

There’s another area which I’m a little more wary about, and we don’t know how the Biden administration is going to do it. And that’s hydrogen. There’s a hydrogen tax credit. I recently wrote about this in The New York Times if people want to read my article to kind of get more into the weeds there. But basically, it’s a really big incentive to build a new industry that could help clean up airplanes, basically, heavy industry—things that are really hard to clean up. But the issue is that, depending on how Treasury implements that new tax credit, it could actually increase pollution in the short run, or it could decrease pollution. And there’s a really active debate about how that should be done. So, we could talk about 15, 20, 30, I don’t know, 100 other programs that are being implemented right now. But that gives you a sort of flavor of some of the big decisions that the Biden administration has to make in the coming months. And I think we have some good track record so far. But we should remain really vigilant to make sure that they do the right thing. Because, in fairness, they’ve got a lot of things to do. So, we need to make sure that we’re communicating as environmental advocates that, hey, you need to make the right choice all across the board.

Gibbs Léger: Right. The administration also announced an environmental justice initiative this year called Justice40 to help make sure investments flow to the communities most severely impacted by the climate crisis. So, can you talk to our audience about this initiative, what it does and why it’s so critical?

Dr. Stokes: Yeah, so the Justice40 initiative is coming through an executive order. The president can sort of set policy through executive order, which says, “Hey, agencies, this is what we’re going to do.” So, as we implement the Inflation Reduction Act, let’s make sure that 40 percent of the benefits of those investments are flowing to disadvantaged communities. And so, they can send that signal across the different parts of the government that are implementing that law, as well as other laws, like the infrastructure law as well, and make sure that when we do climate policy and energy investments, that we’re not reproducing the injustice that we have had in the fossil fuel-based energy system. There’s so much research that shows that Black communities in particular, but also Hispanic communities, Indigenous communities, are on the front lines of pollution. They breathe in dirtier air. This has very substantive, material impacts on communities for generations. What do I mean by that? Well, there’s a study, for example, from the Census Bureau, which shows that if you were in your mom’s womb and you were exposed to a little bit more pollution when your mother was pregnant, you can see the impact of that pollution on your children’s children.

Gibbs Léger: Wow.

Dr. Stokes: OK? We’re talking down the line here that we can still see reduced earnings. We can see reduced reading. We can see lots of financial health impacts. And so, when we talk about inequality on racial lines, where does that come from? It comes from a lot of things. Of course, things like redlining, Jim Crow laws, not allowing people equal access to the ballot, incarcerating people across racial lines, all of these things matter. But sometimes we can forget how much pollution can have a material impact on people’s lives, on their well-being, on cancer rates, on asthma, and even on earning potentials.

So, this is a commitment that the Biden administration has made to say that, “Hey, we’re not going to keep doing climate and energy policy how we’ve been doing it,” which is largely through the tax code. Because if we only do it through the tax code, it’s mostly wealthier families, often white families, who adopt things like solar and electric vehicles because they have tax liability. And so, the goal is to make sure that the benefits of the transition are spread across society more equally, including along racial lines. And this is an important executive order that we need to make sure that the Biden administration implements properly.

And I’ll just say one other thing, which is that, for example, there are rebate programs, which [are] basically grants, dollars that can help people clean up their homes to put in a heat pump. And working with Rewiring America, I’ve been very vocal that those rebate programs should be going to disadvantaged communities. They should not be going to wealthier communities. Why? Because we have tax credits that can go to wealthy communities. Those rebate programs were actually sold in Congress as being part of the $60 billion that was supposed to be flowing to disadvantaged communities. And yet there are people—and there’s sort of movement within the administration, potentially—to not make sure that those limited dollars actually flow to disadvantaged communities. And I think that’s very wrong because I think it violates the executive order. I think it violates congressional intent in terms of what Congress said they were doing with the $60 billion for disadvantaged communities. And so, I think that the Biden administration needs to do the right thing and make sure that when there are limited pools of funding, that can actually be used by disadvantaged communities because they’re not just flowing through the tax code, which has unlimited amounts of money—that we actually direct that money. And just as one data point, in California, they have a rebate program for the same kind of thing to help people retrofit their homes to get heat pumps. And when people looked back at who’s actually accessing that money because there’s no income limit, it’s wealthy people. In fact, there’s less than 1 percent of that California program that’s going into disadvantaged communities.

Gibbs Léger: Wow.

Dr. Stokes: Yeah, I mean, that’s a stunning fact. Right? And so, if we don’t put guardrails on the money, if we don’t intentionally say we want 40 percent of it to flow to disadvantaged communities, it won’t. The fastest people to raise their hands are the ones with the most wealth in society who know how to navigate rebate programs, so we need to make sure that we really intentionally get these dollars out the door for disadvantaged communities.

Gibbs Léger: You know, I do want to talk about one challenge to the climate movement, and that is the Willow drilling project in Alaska. So, can you talk about why this is a bad decision and how we can avoid these types of decisions or mistakes in the future?

Dr. Stokes: Yeah, so the Willow Project is a fossil fuel development. It’s an oil project in northern Alaska. There have been proposals to develop oil in this region for a long time—if people remember fights over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for example.

Gibbs Léger: Yes.

Dr. Stokes: It’s a similar issue. And so, the company ConocoPhillips has proposed to do a very large fossil fuel project in northern Alaska. They initially proposed to do the project even bigger with five well pads, and the Biden administration provided some comments and feedback to scale back the project. And so, the project ended up being approved a few months ago at three well pads, which is still a project that is financially viable, according to the fossil fuel company, but it is smaller. Now, it’s important also to remember that the community that is the closest—the Inuit community that is the closest to the project—does not support the project. But there is a broader community within Alaska, including Native Alaskans, who do support it. So, it’s a complex situation. For example, Rep. [Mary] Peltola (D-AK) in Congress supported it. Ultimately, [Interior] Secretary Deb Haaland approved it.

I do not support this project. I do not think it makes any sense to continue to develop fossil fuel projects, especially in the Arctic. This project requires the company to chill the ground, because they’re going to basically melt permafrost in the process of doing this project. And so, it will be too warm. And so, they have to refreeze the Arctic in order to extract oil. It’s just like something out of a dystopian novel. You’re like, what? It’s very depressing. So, it’s a terrible project. It’s going to increase greenhouse gases. It’s going to have significant impacts, particularly on the community that lives the closest, particularly on keystone species like caribou that is part of traditional diets for Indigenous communities. And so, I do not support it. I think it was a terrible decision.

Supposedly—and President Biden has said this himself—he didn’t feel that he had the ability legally to not approve the project because it had gone too far down the process. You have to remember it dates back to the Trump administration. There [were] already decisions made. Other people argued that’s not true, that the president could have rejected it, that that’s not true. But he says that the legal advice that he got said that he needed to approve it. Now, of course, there are environmental groups that are suing to stop the project. I believe that includes Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Counsel. I fully support their efforts and I hope that this project will never be developed. It’s important to remember that it takes a long time to build a fossil fuel project. And it’s still going to be going through a legal process. And maybe someday soon, these fossil fuel companies will wake up to the fact that we have already warmed the planet by 1.2 degrees [Celsius], that all this pollution is just moving us in the wrong direction, and that it’s really time to invest in the clean energy economy. I don’t know when they’re going to wake up to that. It’s a bit hard to say. But that’s the context for Willow.

The last thing I’ll say is, look, it’s a really bad decision. It’s particularly devastating for the communities that live the closest and who are opposed to the project. But it is also not game over for the climate. Climate change, for better or worse, involves thousands, millions of decisions really. For example, there’s 1 billion machines in the United States alone that run on fossil fuels. One billion. Some of those machines are really big, like an oil project or a gas plant for the electricity system. And some of them are small, like the leaf blower your neighbor is using that runs on oil or the lawn mower or your car. But all of these things have to be turned into electric machines. And we have to stop building new fossil fuel projects. But it doesn’t mean that one decision is going to doom us all or save us all. We have to continue to move in the direction of cleaner machines, of decarbonizing the economy. And we should organize and fight terrible projects like Willow, but we also can’t become so despondent that we stop being part of the movement. There’s a really delicate balance between hope and despair, really. And I think that folks have to know that, yes, the stakes for Willow are really big. But there’s a thousand, there’s a million, there’s a billion fights to be won, and we have to stay in the fight because we can’t take our eyes off the prize here. And the fossil fuel industry never sleeps. That’s what I always think. I think they’re up 24/7 with all their lobbyists. So, we can’t really rest either.

Gibbs Léger: You know what, I think that’s a really great note to end this interview on because you make a really great point about, it’s a bad decision. It’s a bad thing that’s happening. But there’s so many other things that go into fighting climate change. And we can’t afford to be despondent because the other side with their lobbyists and their 24/7 advocacy for their side, they’re not stopping.

Dr. Stokes: No, and they lose all the time, too. Right? It’s not like they win all the time. You know, you win, you lose. It’s a battle. And the thing is that this is what Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The problem with climate change is we need the curve to bend faster in order to limit warming. So, the stakes are so enormous. There’s a timeline here. And it’s really frustrating when we lose but sometimes the fossil fuel industry loses, too. And personally, I think they lost big time in the Inflation Reduction Act. I don’t think they fully realize that. I don’t think they know that yet. But I think when we look back in a decade at the progress that was made in 2022, we’re going to say, “Wow, this really changed the trajectory of pollution and started to build a more just and equitable future in the United States.”

Gibbs Léger: I love it. Dr. Leah Stokes, thank you for all the work that you do. And thank you for joining us on “The Tent.”

Dr. Stokes: Oh, thanks so much for having me on.

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Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks for listening. Be sure to go back and check out previous episodes. Before we go, got to talk about some stuff. Erin, can we discuss the weird things that are happening with AI [artificial intelligence] and music?

Phillips: Yeah, I don’t like it, Daniella.

Gibbs Léger: I don’t like it at all.

Phillips: I keep getting these Instagram reels of Donald Trump and Joe Biden singing songs to each other.

Gibbs Léger: It’s creepy.

Phillips: And like, they’re funny, but I feel like someone is going to see them and think they’re real. And it’s not just the presidents. There was a song that was released last week, I think, and it was The Weeknd and Drake, and they made an actual song. And they had them sing it. And it’s like, well, do we even need Drake anymore?

Gibbs Léger: OK. I mean, that’s a different question.

Phillips: Maybe not, yeah.

Gibbs Léger: Look, I am not—I don’t remember what the word is—but like, yay technology. Right? It’s great. The advances that we’ve made in all types of things is wonderful and helps us lead much better, efficient, exciting lives. Whatever. This is weird.

Phillips: It’s weird.

Gibbs Léger: And I feel like at some point, it’s going to cross a line or the wrong video that’s fake is going to reach the wrong person who doesn’t realize that it’s fake, and then something bad is going to happen.

Phillips: Yeah, I have seen the argument—I feel like with the AI images, like you’ve probably seen Donald Trump getting arrested, there were the AI images that were going around of the pope in the Balenciaga jacket—there’s things about it that you can really look at it and tell if it’s real. I feel like as someone who works in audio, people are not critical listeners. They are better at using their eyes. And they’re better at looking at the hands and the pupils. And those are the tricks to tell if something’s AI-generated. But when they’re just scrolling through and listening really passively, it’s kind of hard to tell.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I am thankful that there are smart people out there like Dr. Alondra Nelson, a distinguished senior fellow here at the Center for American Progress [Action Fund], who are thinking about these advancements and what, if any, guardrails need to be up because it’s weird music today, it’s something much more detrimental tomorrow. So, we really have to be careful.

Phillips: Yeah. And I will say, maybe we don’t need Drake anymore for other reasons. But I do think there’s something about the soul of actual music. And I don’t think we’re going to be out here replacing musicians with AI completely.

Gibbs Léger: I agree with that. I really hope that is the case. I’ve got to talk about two shows.

Phillips: Please! I don’t watch them, but I’ve been kind of watching “Succession” through you.

Gibbs Léger: OK. I hope it’s been an enjoyable experience for you.

Phillips: It has, yeah.

Gibbs Léger: Let me tell you something. This last episode of “Succession” was once again amazing and wonderful. And we see the aftermath of Logan’s death. It was an underline, people. Like, I’m not going to have this argument. And Kelly, I’m talking to you. It was an underline. If he meant to cross out Kendall’s name, he would have crossed out Kendall’s name.

Phillips: I don’t know. It looked a little bit like a cross.

Gibbs Léger: Listen. Logan Roy is very thorough and clear in whatever menacing thing he wanted to do. So, I don’t believe that he would have left that to somebody else’s interpretation. I truly do not believe it.

Phillips: I did see someone say the Emmy should go to whatever PA [production assistant] on set drew that underline/cross that was supposed to be so ambiguous.

Gibbs Léger: I think they should maybe come up with a special Emmy category just for that.

Phillips: Best underline.

Gibbs Léger: Exactly. And then, the last thing about “Succession” is not them making me feel bad about Kerry and how—is it Marsha? Is that his wife’s name? I don’t know, but Logan’s estranged wife, let’s be clear—how chilly and cold she was to Kerry. And then, she was like, she can take her out the back. Like, just take her out the back. It was so mean and wonderful, and it was great. All the dynamics are just so incredibly screwed up, which is why I love the show so much.

Phillips: We live for the drama.

Gibbs Léger: We do. We do live for the drama. Speaking of drama, oh my goodness. First of all, Netflix get your ish together because that “Love Is Blind” “live”? I didn’t watch it. I wasn’t going to watch it live anyway.

Phillips: But a lot of people were.

Gibbs Léger: They sure were. And I’m like, you can’t do that and then screw it up. Like, oh my goodness. Thing two, Vanessa and Nick Lachey: They got to go. They were so bad as hosts. They didn’t ask any good questions, any probing follow-ups. They totally let Jackie and Josh off the hook. And she gave them a puff interview and then attacked Marshall. We’re going to protect Marshall at all costs. But then her weird questioning about who’s giving me a “Love Island” baby—“Love Island,” I don’t even watch “Love Island” …

Phillips: Different show.

Gibbs Léger: Love Is Blind” baby first, and I’m like, do not ask people when they’re having children.

Phillips: That’s a weird question to ask. Intrusive.

Gibbs Léger: It is. And not only intrusive, inappropriate. But she kept on it, Erin, for, I don’t know, five minutes, asking every couple.

Phillips: She’s like your nosy aunt.

Gibbs Léger: Oh my god, the nosy aunt who you run away from, who’s like, when you’re dating, when are you going to get married? When you get married, when are you going to have a baby? When you have one baby, when are you going to have a second baby? If you don’t get out of my business … So, Vanessa needs to go. OK, as far as the couples are concerned, Brett and Tiffany did not get the airtime that they deserve because they’re a boring happy couple, so where’s the drama in that?

Phillips: Eh, we don’t need to see it.

Gibbs Léger: Screw you, Netflix, for doing that. But Kwame and Chelsea, I was pleasantly surprised. And Zach and Bliss, I just didn’t even think they were going to make it. But now I’m rooting for them. And I’m like, do I like Zach? Am I a fan? I think I am.

Phillips: He’s converted you.

Gibbs Léger: He has. He has. It’s the beard. Anyway, so those are my brief thoughts.

Phillips: I’m surprised as a non-watcher at how many couples actually came out of that show.

Gibbs Léger: I’m very surprised that three came out. I thought it was going to be one.

Phillips: Now, are you in the camp that—it’s Vanessa and Nick Lachey? That they should not be hosting the show because it’s very odd that the show is this social experiment about how love is blind, but they met the traditional way.

Gibbs Léger: I mean, I don’t care how they met. I just think they’re terrible hosts, and there was some weird energy going on between them. It’s OK. Look, next year, it’ll be 20 years I’ll be married. I make the old couple married jokes all the time, but I don’t host a reality show with newlyweds, and I wouldn’t keep making that joke. It felt like, is everything OK with you guys at home, Nick and Vanessa? You guys all right? I was getting those vibes.

Phillips: Uh-oh. Trouble in paradise. Trouble on love island.

Gibbs Léger: Exactly. Anyway, well, I’m excited to see what the next season will bring. I think it’s being filmed in D.C.

Phillips: I think it’s D.C. I heard they were having trouble getting people because nobody wants to take time off their lobbying jobs.

Gibbs Léger: I mean, yeah. D.C. is just not the place for a show like this.

Phillips: Everyone’s under security clearances.

Gibbs Léger: Or they want to have one in the future. So, I don’t know. Good luck to them. They’re probably going be importing people from Philly. That’s no shade to you, Philly, but you guys aren’t in the government like we are here. Anyway, that’s enough about “Love Is Blind.”

Well, that’s it for us this week. Take care of yourselves. If you’re like me, the pollen-ing, it’s out of control. So, take all the medication that you need and keep your windows up when it’s peak pollen season. And I know you know this if you’re an allergy sufferer, but it’s really nice today in D.C.—like 70 degrees and sunny—and I think the reason why I’m suffering right now is I came to work with the windows down like an idiot.

Phillips: Uh-oh, rookie mistake.

Gibbs Léger: So, I got pollen all in my eyes. Rookie mistake. But anyway, we hope you all are doing all right, and we will talk to you next week.

“The Tent” is a podcast from the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It’s hosted by me, Daniella Gibbs Léger, and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Erin Phillips is our lead producer. Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer. And Sam Signorelli is our digital producer. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Daniella Gibbs Léger

Executive Vice President, Communications and Strategy


Colin Seeberger

Senior Adviser, Communications

Erin Phillips

Broadcast Media Manager

Kelly McCoy

Senior Director of Broadcast Communications

Sam Signorelli

Policy and Outreach Associate, Government Affairs



Explore The Series

Politics. Policy. Progress. All under one big tent. Produced by CAP Action, “The Tent” is a news and politics podcast hosted by Daniella Gibbs Léger and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Listen each Thursday for episodes exploring topics that progressives are focused on.


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