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Brad Johnson at Wonk Room recently flagged a video of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), once the Republican party's champion of action on climate change, sliding farther into denial. In an event promoting New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte, McCain went so far as question whether the climate is changing and indicate that the science might be "flawed":
I think it's an inexact science, and there has been more and more questioning about some of the conclusions that were reached concerning climate change. And I believe that everybody in the world deserves correct answers whether the scientific conclusions were flawed by outside influences. There's great questions about it that need to be resolved.
Now, this is the same guy who said in 2007: "[U]nequivocally I believe that it's real. I believe there's enough evidence out there to convince us at least to try to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." He also pledged, as a candidate for president in 2008, "I will clean up the planet... I will make global warming a priority."
McCain has been backing off the climate issue ever since Obama won the election. First he attacked Obama's approach to dealing with the issue, and then he disavowed ever having endorsed legislative efforts to address it. But this latest is a new low. Not only does he no longer care about passing legislation to address the issue, he's using the ginned-up controversy over leaked emails to attack the underlying science.
Todd Purdham's lengthy Vanity Fair essay exploring "What happened?" to McCain may help explain McCain's latest comments. Purdham argues that the person and the senator many thought McCain to be may never have existed at all. Instead, McCain's "beliefs" were guided by self-preservation or the desire for political advancement rather than any kind of principle. While this theory makes it less surprising that McCain would do a 180 on climate, it doesn't make it any less disappointing.
Here's the video of McCain's New Hampshire appearance: