Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma is still awaiting a final full Senate vote on his confirmation as administrator of NASA. The Senate Commerce Committee voted in favor of his appointment on a 14 to 13 party-line vote. In the meanwhile, the gentleman from Oklahoma has scored something of a political coup by inviting none other than Bill Nye the Science Guy, the CEO of the Planetary Society, as his personal guest at the upcoming State of the Union Address. Nye has graciously accepted the invitation.

Who is Bill Nye?

Most people of a certain age remember bill nye as the host of a favorite children’s program that depicted the bow tie, lab coat wearing man performing simple scientific experiments.

A number of adult scientists harken back to watching Nye’s show as the moment they were inspired to pursue a career in one of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields. Ironically, Nye himself is not an actual scientist and has a degree in chemical engineering. He started his career as a comedian before switching to children’s programming.

Nye is currently the CEO of the Planetary Society, the largest organization that advocates for space exploration in the United States. Of Bridenstine, Nye said, “I’m very pleased to join Congressman Bridenstine at the President’s first State of the Union Address. As CEO of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest independent space interest and advocacy organization, I have enjoyed a productive working relationship with Congressman Bridenstine on space issues.”

That climate change issue

One of the more interesting aspects of Nye’s being Bridenstine’s guest at the STOTU, this offering an implied endorsement for his appointment as NASA Administrator, stems from the climate change issue.

One of the claims made by the congressman’s opponents against his confirmation as NASA administrator is that he is a climate change “denier.” The charge stems from a speech Bridenstine made on the floor of the House denouncing the idea of human-caused climate change. He has since modified his views somewhat and, in any case, has pledged not to exert political interference on NASA’s scientists who are studying the Earth’s climate.

Nye, according to a story in the Washington Times, once suggested that climate change “deniers” be put in jail, the theory being that anyone who casts doubt on the problem is placing the Earth and the human race at risk. Nye was vigorously denounced for the suggestion which, to many, smacked of fascism and suppression of free and open debate. In any case, it looks like Nye does not want to put Rep. Bridenstine in jail, which can be considered a good thing.