Despite their political and environmental differences, Inhofe and McCain remained friends to the end

As he once campaigned for President against President Obama, Sen. John McCain refused to personally attack Obama the man. His policies yes. Obama himself? No.

And after his weekend death, McCain was remembered fondly by Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe who had great environmental and political differences with the Arizona senator over the years. Still, their friendship endured over the years despite those differences.

“Kay and I were deeply saddened to learn that Sen. John McCain passed away today, leaving behind a legacy of service and sacrifice that will not be forgotten. I’ll never forget how he was one of three senators who came to campaign for me in 1994 when no one else thought I had a chance of getting elected,” said Sen. Inhofe in a statement this week.

“John was a fighter for the causes he cared deeply about—most notably our military and democratic values around the world—and a passionate advocate for Arizonians. I’m honored that I could call him a friend and colleague. Our prayers are with his wife, Cindy, and the entire McCain family as we join the nation in mourning and honoring a true American hero,” said Inhofe.

They might have been friends, but when it came to the debate over climate change and the environment, Sen. Inhofe had one point of view and Sen. McCain had quite another.

For instance,  Inhofe opposed cap-and-trade legislation while McCain embraced the science and co-authored early versions of the legislation. They failed in 2003 and 2005.  After the 2003 failure, McCain personally congratulated Inhofe.

When McCain won the GOP Presidential nomination in 2008 and ran against Obama, both backed the legislation to cap U.S. emissions.

Last year, Sen. McCain cast the decisive vote when the Senate narrowly rejected the Republican effort to kill Obama-era regulations to  curb methane emissions from  oil and gas development on public lands.

“Thank you so much for coming forward and seeing the common-sense nature of this issue,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in  a floor speech thanking McCain and two others who unexpectedly voted against the bill.

Sen. Inhofe voted ‘yes’ while McCain opposed it. Inside Climate News reported at the time, “McCain can be seen on the floor facing off heatedly against a half-dozen GOP senators who surround and block him  before he gestures thumbs-down, a foreshadowing of his later decisive vote against the Obamacare repeal.”

Sen. Inhofe is known internationally for his opposition to the climate change issue, once comparing the EPA to a Gestapo bureaucracy and EPA Administrator Carol Browner to Tokyo Rose. After becoming chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, he became known as global warming denier, calling it a “hoax.”

In 2003, Sen. Inhofe targeted Sen. McCain and his McCain-Lieberman Bill. While it was formally called the Climate Stewardship Acts, it was really a move to create a mandatory cap and trade system for greenhouse gases. The measures failed in the senate after Inhofe delivered a two-hour Senate speech July 28, 2003.

In the speech, he vowed to “expose the most powerful, most highly financed lobby in Washington, the far left environmental extremists.” He called the climate change topic a “hoax” at least four times in the speech.

Inhofe said he had “offered compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax” adding, “manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

As The Oklahoman noted in 2008 when McCain captured the GOP Presidential nomination, Inhofe had problems endorsing McCain, even though McCain  joined Inhofe in flying around the state when he first ran for the U.S. Senate 14 years earlier.

“At times, Inhofe has openly voiced what appeared to be disdain for McCain,” wrote reporter Chris Casteel. Inhofe endorsed George W. bush rather than McCain in 2000 saying the party nominee should have Republican values and not one “chosen by the Democrats.”

Eight years later, Inhofe stubbornly confessed he would support McCain and would not vote for the Democratic nominee.

“I’m not part of that school,” he told the newspaper.”I think too much of American to have (U.S. Sen.) Hillary Clinton as president.”

But he also stated that McCain was, in his opinion, not “one of the pure conservatives.”

Despite their political differences, Inhofe said this of John McCain.

“He is smooth, he is smart, he is articulate and he radiates a sense of security that other candidates don’t….I like McCain and I respect McCain.”