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  • Tell me when you guys are ready.

  • We announced we were going to be talking to you.

  • Yeah.

  • And we said on the internet send us some questions.

  • Right.

  • Because we want to have a dialogue.

  • Yeah. And we'll ask the president.

  • And the internet blew up.

  • It was incredible.

  • I do a lot of environmental pieces and whenever I do an environmental piece,

  • out come the box, out come the eggs, you know on Twitter.

  • Right.

  • Because there's all kinds of negative stuff-.

  • That they want to caused up.

  • That's every day for you.

  • Yeah.

  • How do you do it?

  • How do you handle the, the controversy, the negativity?

  • Yeah.

  • Why be pres-, it's, are you a masochist?

  • You know, l, l, let me tell you, this is a fun job.

  • Right. I, every day I wake up and

  • I get a bird's eye view on what's going on everywhere in the world.

  • Hm.

  • I can have as much of an impact

  • on the things that are important to people as anybody on the planet?

  • Right. You know,

  • if you're applying yourself steadily every single day to

  • the job and you're keeping your North Star which is,

  • when I leave this office I want things to be a little bit better.

  • Then the day to day criticism, the chatter,

  • the noise, is something that you end up blocking out.

  • And the longer you're in the job the more you're likely to take the long view.

  • Let's take something like climate change.

  • Let's.

  • We just got back from Antarctica and Antarctica is melting,

  • Greenland is melting as fast as they can.

  • Sea levels are rising, yet many people are putting their head in the sand.

  • It's right over the hill, Shane.

  • Yeah. Pine Island and

  • Thwaites are right over the hill, 100 miles from here.

  • Yeah.

  • All that ice, it's just a matter of time, is going to fall down to sea.

  • If I can change how the country thinks about this.

  • Mm-hm. As, as a serious, immediate threat.

  • Not some distant vague thing.

  • Which is crucial.

  • If I can encourage and gain commitments from the Chinese

  • to put forward a serious plan to start curbing their greenhouse gases.

  • And that then allows us to leverage the entire world for

  • the conference that will be taking this place this year in, in Paris.

  • And if I'm able to double fuel efficiency standards, and if I'm able to

  • make appliances more efficient, and to double the production of clean energy.

  • If I'm able to do all those things now, when I'm done.

  • We're still going to have a heck of a problem, but

  • we will have made enough progress that, the next president and

  • the next generations can start building on it, you start getting some momentum.

  • Which is rational, sane That's a great answer,

  • however Yeah.

  • You have people.

  • For example Senator Inhofe whose whose throwing snowballs,

  • whose saying the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American

  • public is that we can do anything about climate change or that it's even real.

  • Senator from Oklahoma.

  • We keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record.

  • I asked the chair, do you know what this is?

  • It's a snowball.

  • And, that's just from outside here.

  • So it's very, very cold out.

  • Very unseasonal.

  • So here Mr. President, catch this.

  • Throwing a snowball would be funny- Yeah.

  • If it weren't for

  • the fact that he's chairman of the Senate committee on the environment.

  • That's disturbing.

  • So you have a very sane and rational plan, but

  • we're not acting in a sane and rational way.

  • Yeah.

  • Well I, and I, I, I'll tell you.

  • Climate change is an example of the hardest problems to solve,

  • the hardest thing to do in politics and in government is to make

  • sacrifices now for a long term payoff.

  • But here's, here's what keeps me optimistic.

  • Is, you talk to Malia and Sasha, you know?

  • Mm-hm. 16 and 13.

  • Mm-hm.

  • And the sophistication and awareness that they have about environmental issues,

  • compared to my generation or yours.

  • Yeah.

  • They're way ahead of the game.

  • There's always gonna be resistance to change.

  • And some of that is gonna be generational.

  • I guarantee you that the Republican party will have to change it's approach

  • to climate change, because voters will insist upon it.

  • The challenge on something like climate change is,

  • there comes a point of no return.

  • Mm-hm.

  • And you do have to make sure that we get at this thing quick enough and

  • with enough force, to be able to make a difference.

  • Why is the resistance so strong?

  • Well some of it's economic.

  • If you poll folks, they're concerned about climate change.

  • But they're more concerned about gas prices.

  • Right.

  • You can't fault somebody for being concerned about paying the bills or

  • being able to fill up your tank to get to your job.

  • In some cases, though, you have elected officials who are shills for

  • the oil companies or the fossil fuel industry.

  • And there's a lot of money involved.

  • Typically in Congress the committees of jurisdiction, like the energy committees,

  • are populated by folks from places that pump a lot of oil and pump a lot of gas.

  • In our research the environment or

  • global warming is the number one issue for, for Gen Y.

  • But another issue is dysfunction.

  • Yeah. You know,

  • it seems that from the outside that.

  • From the inside too.

  • That Washington, if you look at global warming for example.

  • Yeah.

  • And you're right, the younger generation, there is no debate.

  • Yeah.

  • Yet they see.

  • This fighting, this gridlock in- Yeah.

  • In Washington.

  • Or for other things.

  • Just for example, now sort of chicken that's being played

  • with Department of Homeland Security for example.

  • Republicans are playing politics with the critical funding.

  • For the Department of Homeland Security and threatening a shut down.

  • The President's executive amnesty is lawless and unconstitutional.

  • These are things that our taxes pay for.

  • Right. Yet

  • it seems to be a game that's being played.

  • And young people are dissatisfied and angry, but they don't know what to do.

  • What would you, what would you tell them?

  • Well, let me say a couple things.

  • A lot of times, from the outside, and sometimes mainstream media reports this

  • as a food fight, and it's a problem of both parties just being partisan.

  • Well, that's just not accurate.

  • On climate change, 90% of Democrats agree with me and

  • 90% of Republicans oppose any action on it.

  • And a sizable portion of their party deny it even exists.

  • There have been times in history where Democrats have been unreasonable.

  • Mm. There have been times where

  • Republicans have led the way.

  • But right now, on a lot of the issues that young people care about,

  • it's not both sides arguing and creating gridlock.

  • You've got one side that is denying the facts.

  • Mm. Who are often motivated, principally,

  • by opposing whatever it is that I propose.

  • Now, that's not inevitable to our democracy.

  • That's some,

  • that's a phase that the Republican Party's going through right now.

  • And it'll outgrow that phase.

  • The thing that we do have to worry about is the fact that

  • the pace of change globally is so quick.

  • Mm. That we may not have the luxury

  • of 20 years or ten years of not getting a lot done.

  • Mm-hm.

  • If we want to deal with not just climate change but the potential for a pandemic.

  • With terrorism, with the challenges around cyber security.

  • Some of these things are just moving.

  • One thing young people could do

  • immediately- Yes.

  • Is vote. Okay.

  • And the fact of the matter is, is that in the last midterm election,

  • about a third of eligible voters voted.

  • Mm-hm.

  • And so, if you've got gridlock and you've got people who aren't producing,

  • the fact that a lot of them got rewarded with reelection and

  • the people who were in power creating the gridlock stayed in power,

  • that's the consequence of everybody staying home and acting cynical.

  • And the minute you withdraw in that way from the process of politics,

  • well, then you're destined to have the existing power structures call the shots.

  • 47 Republican senators put their names today to this open letter to Iran

  • informing Iran that any nuclear agreement not voted in by Congress will be viewed

  • as, quote, nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and

  • Ayatollah Khamenei.

  • How does it feel when you're trying to get a deal done with Iran,

  • for example, and then you have senators who are sending separate letters?

  • Yeah. Well, it I'm embarrassed for them.

  • Yeah.

  • Because it's not how America does business.

  • Mm-hm.

  • I think it's entirely legitimate for

  • my friends in the Senate who signed that letter to ask very

  • hard questions about how can we assure that Iran's not getting a nuclear weapon.

  • You know, why would we lift sanctions now given

  • how they're causing problems in other part of the world.

  • Given the venomous things they've said about Israel.

  • You know, how can we even negotiate with them?

  • Now, I will have responses to each of those questions, and

  • I will say that I've committed to making sure Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapon.

  • I'm prepared to take all options to prevent them from getting a nuclear

  • weapon, but the absolute best option is a diplomatic resolution.

  • And if we do get a deal, it's going to be because I can verify that they won't have

  • a weapon and I will have the international community helping us verify that.

  • We can have that debate.

  • For them to address a letter to the Ayatollah,

  • the supreme leader of Iran, who they claim is our mortal enemy, and

  • their basic argument to them is, don't deal with our president,

  • because you can't trust him to follow through on an agreement.

  • That's close to unprecedented.

  • Mm-hm. We were

  • looking at the history to see if there was an example of it.

  • We couldn't find one.

  • And by doing so, they were effectively making common cause with the hardliners in

  • Iran who also don't want any kind of diplomatic resolution,

  • because they are invested in getting a nuclear weapon.

  • Mm-hm.

  • So this is a good example, I think, of where the state of our politics.

  • Sure. That leads Republicans to be more worried

  • about a Tea Party primary than they are about what ordinary folks are thinking.

  • It damages the country, it damages our standing, it's not productive.

  • In this day and age where we've got such big issues, we can't afford it.

  • We embedded with ISIL last summer for a month.

  • One of the biggest questions that I had was, how did they become so

  • popular so fast?

  • How did they get so many foreign fighters from America, from the UK-.

  • Mm-hm. You know, from Scandinavia,

  • from all over the world, go there, outstrip al-Qaeda almost overnight?

  • Yeah.

  • And so, A, how did they become so popular out of nowhere?

  • And then, B, how do we stop them?

  • Two things.

  • One is ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

  • Mm-hm.

  • That grew out of our invasion.

  • Which is an example of unintended consequences,

  • which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.

  • We've got a 60 country coalition.

  • We will slowly push back ISIL out of Iraq.

  • I'm confident that will happen.

  • But what I'm worried about, and

  • what we have to stay worried about, is, even if ISIL is defeated,

  • the underlying problem of disaffected Sunnis around the world,

  • but particularly in some of these areas, including Libya, including Yemen.

  • Where a young man who's growing up, has no education and

  • has no prospects for the future, is looking around, and

  • the one way that he can get validation, power, respect as if he's a fighter.

  • And this looks like the toughest gang around, so let me affiliate with them.

  • Mm-hm.

  • And now you're giving me a, a religious rationale for doing this.

  • That's a problem we're gonna have, have generally and

  • we can't keep on thinking about counter-terrorism and

  • security as entirely separate from diplomacy, development, education.

  • All these things that are considered soft, but

  • in fact, are vital to our national security.

  • And we do not fund those.

  • If you asked the average person, how much do we spend on foreign aid?