Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse participates in a House Judiciary Committee hearing. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Big oil companies set to meet with Pope Francis later this week are being "duplicitous" in their support for addressing climate change, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, says in a letter to the Pope dated Tuesday and being released today.

Why it matters: This letter is a window into the heart of the world’s climate and energy debate: To what degree big oil and gas companies, whose products are warming the Earth but also help run the global economy, are genuine about being part of the solution to climate change.

The details: Whitehouse says the oil companies, including ExxonMobil and BP, continue supporting trade groups that oppose any climate policies and aren’t supporting a carbon price bill Whitehouse has sponsored. He wrote:

“[I]t is painfully evident that the oil industry is duplicitous in its public-facing statements as it remorsefully schemes through proxies and agents to obstruct in the United States Congress the very progress it claims to seek.”

For the record: Oil company officials have said they can’t single-handedly change the near zero appetite Congress has to address climate change policy right now, and also that governments in general haven’t done enough on the issue in decades past.

Go deeper: Big Oil teeters between enemy and ally in climate fight.

Go deeper

SurveyMonkey poll: Trump improves, but not enough

Trump and Biden during the final debate. Photo: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images

President Trump's final debate performance exceeded Americans' expectations, but it wasn't enough to shift the dynamics that left him trailing Joe Biden across most measures, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

What they're saying: "Liar" was the word used most by debate watchers to describe Trump's performance, followed by "lies," "strong," "presidential" and "childish." "Presidential" was the word used most to describe Biden's performance, followed by "liar," "weak," "expected" and "honest."

Hunter Biden saga dominates online debate

Data: NewsWhip; Table: Axios Visuals

The mainstream media turned away. But online, President Trump's charges about Hunter Biden were by far the dominant storyline about the final presidential debate, according to exclusive NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

  • Coverage of business dealings by Joe Biden's son — and pre-debate allegations by one of his former business associates, Tony Bobulinski — garnered more than twice as much online activity (likes, comments, shares) as the runner-up.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Health

America's poor health is jeopardizing its future

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

From high levels of obesity and opioid addiction to inequities in access to care, America's pre-existing conditions make the country an easy target for COVID-19, as well as future pandemics that could cripple the United States for decades to come.

Why it matters: One of the best ways the country could prepare for future threats — and boost its economy — is to improve Americans' overall health.