Mitt vs. Mitt, Newt vs. Newt: GOP Candidates Debate Themselves on Climate Change (Video)

Mitt Debates Mitt on Climate from Sierra Club National on Vimeo.

Climate change has devolved into an ideological litmus test for the Republican Party; if you agree with the science, you're out. But that wasn't always the case. Nay, there was a time, just a short while ago, when a Republican could openly discuss climate change without getting booed and chased from the rafters. But an ideological orthodoxy set in – originating from the goadings of the fossil fuel companies and its think tanks, and championed by Fox News and the conservative punditry – that climate change was a hoax.

And hoaxes don't need addressing. Hoaxes don't demand pollution restrictions or efficiency requirements or preference for cleaner sources of energy.

So that's what you're seeing here: Politicians who clearly understood the scientific consensus view of climate change but did not yet understand the political damage of saying so in public. So, early campaign-era Mitt (as in, Mitt from 6 months ago) could innocently say he believed in climate change. But not current-era Mitt, who must meet the standards of the new orthodoxy. That's why these vids, put together by the Sierra Club are so striking – they highlight the direct impact the Tea Party-influenced conservative establishment has had on the rational urgings these candidates once exhibited.

Newt Debates Newt on Climate from Sierra Club National on Vimeo.

Tags: Congress | Global Climate Change