GOT SHADE?…. Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) record on environmental issues has bordered on comical for quite a while. In 2005, for example, Barton, then the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, used not-so-subtle pressure to intimidate the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Science Foundation, and independent scientists who dared to publish accurate data showing a sharp spike in global temperatures in the 20th century.

More recently, Barton took a leadership role in support of pollution, and in opposition to the Clean Air Act.

The good news is, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is now willing to concede that the climate is, in fact, changing. The bad news is, his proposal on what to do about it is ridiculous. Consider his comments yesterday during a congressional hearing on climate change:

“I believe that Earth’s climate is changing, but I think it’s changing for natural variation reasons. And I think man-kind has been adopting, or adapting, to climate as long as man has walked the Earth. When it rains we find shelter. When it’s hot, we get shade. When it’s cold, we find a warm place to stay. Adaptation is the practical, affordable, utterly natural reflex response to nature when the planet is heating or cooling, as it always is.”

In recent months, Republican lawmakers, especially in the House, have made it practically impossible to have a serious bipartisan dialog on economic issues. If Barton’s comments are in any way reflective of his caucus’ approach to global warming, discussions with Republicans on environmental policy will be just as fruitful.

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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.