By Alex Cameron, Oklahoma Impact Team

Perry, OK -- He's been called an idiot, a climate killer, and one of the worst enemies of the planet, and it couldn't make U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe more proud.

To Oklahoma's senior U.S. Senator, the insults just validate his efforts to expose what he says are the lies and exaggerations of global warming alarmists. And, as he told the Oklahoma Impact Team, his efforts are finally paying off, because public opinion on the issue is shifting.

Recent polls show this claim to be true.

A Pew Research Center poll done last October showed that Americans who believe there's "solid evidence the earth is warming" had dropped from 71 percent in 2008 to 57 percent. Also, a Gallup poll this March showed that the percentage of Americans who feel the seriousness of global warming is being exaggerated had jumped from 31 percent, in 2008, to 48 percent.

Poll results like those have Senator Inhofe feeling, not only validated, but vindicated.

"It was eight years ago that I got involved in this whole global warming, cap and trade thing," Sen. Inhofe told to a group of voters recently at a town hall meeting in Perry.

"I was called the worst person--well, the most dangerous man on the planet," Inhofe said. "That's what they called me at that time."

"That" time was not long after a signature speech Inhofe delivered on the Senate floor in July 2003, in which he offered "compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax."

The speech thrust Inhofe into a position few, if any, other elected officials had publicly staked out -- global warming denier. Not only was the self-proclaimed maverick saying that global warming is not being caused by human activity, he was saying global warming isn't happening at all.

"Now, I have to say, it was miserable for about six years, because I was the only one out there," Inhofe said.

Inhofe was ridiculed and dismissed in mainstream and left-leaning publications and said even his own granddaughter questioned his thinking.

"She said, 'Why is it that you don't understand global warming?' This is my granddaughter," Inhofe said.

But then came the scandal that gave Inhofe and other climate change skeptics something tangible to hold up for public scrutiny, and it came, perhaps not coincidentally, on the eve of the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen last December.

Dubbed "Climategate," the scandal surrounded the publication of more than 1,000 hacked e-mails between top climate change scientists affiliated with the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain.

Among other things, the e-mails made reference to the use of a statistical "trick" to hide a decline in temperatures; to keeping papers that contradicted the scientists' conclusions about climate change out of the UN climate report; and to the current lack of warming not fitting with their global warming theory.

Follow-up investigations conducted by the British Parliament, as well as, by university authorities have cleared the scientists and their science.

But Senator Inhofe said his own investigation has shown that Climategate is "real" and that the science behind global warming has been "cooked."

"After what has been exposed now, I can't imagine there's anyone out there who really does believe," Inhofe said.

The truth is, of course, there are many who still believe that the earth is warming.

Oklahoma climatologist Gary McManus is one of them, despite the e-mail scandal.

"I took that controversy very seriously and I did look through all the documents," McManus said.

He says the e-mails do reflect poor decisions by some of the most influential scientists in the field, but "that doesn't really devalue the rest of the science that the world has provided us on climate change."

McManus said the science has been independently verified at numerous labs, including NASA and the National Climatic Data Center, both in the United States.

"Overwhelmingly, that science reports that the earth has been warming, and the cause is mainly the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," McManus said.

Senator Inhofe called that alarmist rhetoric. He said the e-mails showed how scientists have manipulated data to fit their theory and have exposed the global warming lie.

In another signature moment, shortly after the scandal broke last November, Inhofe told the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, Barbara Boxer, D-California, the issue is now settled:

"It's over, gone, done. We won, you lost, get a life!"

And, in another bit of good timing for Inhofe, Washington, D.C. was blanketed in record snowfall around that same time. Visiting Inhofe family members built an igloo not far from the Capitol and crowned it with a homemade sign reading: Al Gore's New Home.  (Former Vice President Gore is among the leading proponents of global warming theory.)

"We've won that battle," Inhofe told the gathering of about 50 people in Perry.

Senator Inhofe insisted the 'consensus' on global warming is now unraveling, and said, after enduring years of name-calling and disparagement, the last laugh will be his.

"Everything you found out in Climategate on how they're cooking the science, I said on the Senate floor back then," Inhofe told the crowd. "Now I've been vindicated."

Polls may show public opinion shifting more in line with Senator Inhofe's views, but they also show that his views remain in the minority. A poll conducted by Stanford University in the first week of June shows three out of four Americans think the earth has been warming over the last 100 years, and the same number think human activity is at least in part to blame.