Last night, America met the 2016 election season’s newest star. Portly, crimson-clad, bespectacled, mustachioed, and just a little bit giddy, Kenneth Bone was catnip for the bored, half-drunk, miserable masses watching the debate. The internet couldn’t shut up about him, and the press followed suit. “The Ballad of Ken Bone,” the Atlantic mewled; “And the winner of the presidential debate is... Ken Bone,” CNN declared; “Ken Bone Is the Only Honest Man in This Election,” Esquire announced.
This, my friends, is all horseshit. Ken Bone isn’t a hero. Ken Bone took the nation’s only shot at asking a substantive question about the candidates’ approach to science and energy and jauntily smothered it to death. Ken Bone so beautifully screwed up the execution of what could have been a hard-hitting, line-in-the-sand question that he may as well have been planted in the audience by the fossil fuel industry. Ken Bone is a national symbol, sure—of our utter inability to address climate change or energy policy in any other way that isn’t just, “Oh, boy! The environment! Will you look at that?”