David Koch, right-wing billionaire and one-half of the infamous Koch Brothers, died Friday at the age of 79. And while death usually prompts feelings of pain and sadness, many on the left—including comedian Bill Maher—had a decidedly different response to the news.
The Real Time host covered the one-time presidential candidate’s passing with his usual unflinching honesty Friday night.
“I guess I’m going to have to reevaluate my low opinion of prostate cancer,” Maher joked, referring to Koch’s longtime battle with the disease. “Condolences poured in from all the politicians he owned and mourners are being asked, in lieu of flowers, to just leave their car engine running.”
Bill Maher on David Koch: "He and his brother have done more than anybody to fund climate-science deniers for decades, so fuck him. The Amazon is burning up. I’m glad he’s dead and I hope the end was painful." https://t.co/jHbJmnXUQx— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) August 24, 2019
“I know these seem like harsh words and harsh jokes, and I’m sure I will be condemned for them on Fox News, which will portray Mr. Koch as a principled libertarian who believed in the free market,” Maher continued. “He and his brother have done more than anybody to fund climate science deniers, for decades. So fuck him, cause the Amazon is burning up, I’m glad he’s dead and I hope the end was painful.”
Koch, whose assets were valued at a whopping $42.2 billion earlier this year, amassed considerable wealth during his life. At the time of his passing, he had a 42-percent stake in Koch Industries, the family’s energy and manufacturing conglomerate, according to The New York Times.
His legacy, however, is likely to be what he used his fortune to accomplish. Most notably, Koch and his brother, Charles, poured untold millions into conservative political causes, including environmental deregulation and the opposition of climate change legislation at both the state and federal levels.
In fact, New York Times writer Christopher Leonard called Koch “the ultimate climate change denier” in an opinion piece published Friday.
David Koch, who died Friday at the age of 79, is best known as a major funder of right-wing political causes. But his most lasting political legacy might very well be the rapidly warming world that he has left behind, writes @CLeonardNews. https://t.co/WAySQdiL7g— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) August 24, 2019
“To his critics, [Koch’s] most lasting political legacy might very well be the rapidly warming world that he has left behind,” Leonard wrote.
Maher is far from the only liberal who cheered Koch’s death.
David Koch was an evil man who dedicated his life to evil who will be missed only by other evildoers. https://t.co/KXCcsJbiwA— Jacobin (@jacobinmag) August 24, 2019
David Koch: *dies peacefully on a huge bed of oil money after a long life in which he achieved most of his right-wing political goals, leaving behind a world roasting in the heat of the climate change he denied*— Noah Smith 🐇 (@Noahpinion) August 24, 2019
Left Twitter: Hahaha, you DIED, we WON
David Koch used his billions to control politicians and corrupt our democracy like no other outside of Moscow. He was evil personified and now will answer for his sins before a just God. #DavidKochDead— Paul J Elliott (@PaulJElliott) August 24, 2019
To that person who suggested that I not speak ill of the dead i.e. David Koch...how else to speak of a person who devoted his life & fortune to championing more $$ for the rich, undermining democracy, questioning climate science and contributing to a warming planet?? #Bye— Patrick McCray (@LeapingRobot) August 24, 2019
I want to be clear I’m not relieved that David Koch is dead because of his political affiliations. I’m relieved he’s dead because he spent his career trying to kill most of us.— Tom Brennan (@Brennanator) August 24, 2019
Climate change has become a defining issue for progressives as the 2020 election nears.
Many Democratic presidential candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have released ambitious plans for tackling the emission of greenhouse gases and investing in cleaner energy sources.
Given that Koch Industries is ranked as the 14th-worst air polluter in the U.S., it’s no wonder environmental activists aren’t exactly mourning Koch’s passing. What’s less clear, at least for now, is what Koch’s longer-term impact on the rapid warming of our planet will be—and whether there’s still time to turn things around for future generations.