FRED BARNES’ ONGOING CONFUSION…. There is, to be sure stiff competition, but Fred Barnes has to be in the lead in the race to be the nation’s worst political columnist. Take this paragraph from Barnes’ latest piece, railing against an economic stimulus.

Obama sounded like Al Gore on global warming. The more the case for man-made warming falls apart, the more hysterical Gore gets about an imminent catastrophe. The more public support his bill loses, the more Obama embraces fear-mongering. “The failure to act, and act now,” the president said last week, “will turn a crisis into a catastrophe.”

That’s quite a lot of stupidity in just 57 words.

Specifically relating to Barnes being a global-warming denier, Zachary Roth gave the conservative pundit a call, to see when, exactly, the case for man-made warming started “falling apart.”

At first, he cited the fact that it’s been cold lately. Perhaps sensing this was less than convincing, Barnes then asserted that there had been a “cooling spell” in recent years. “Haven’t you noticed?” he asked.

Asked for firmer evidence of such cooling, Barnes demurred, telling TPMmuckraker he was too busy to track it down.

We pressed Barnes again: surely he could tell us where he had found this vital new information, which could upend the current debate over how to address global warming.

In response, Barnes said only that he knew where he had found it, but would not tell us, apparently as a matter of principle. “I’m not going to do your research for you,” he eventually said, before hurriedly ending the call.

So, Barnes published a column with obvious nonsense, and when pressed, insists he’s seen evidence to bolster his claims — but doesn’t want to share it.

Barnes will, however, continue to be a member in good standing of the D.C. media political establishment. Nothing he could say or write could ever change that.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.