THE MAN WHO WOULD BE SPEAKER…. One of the difficulties in discussing global warming with conservative Republicans is that they’re often reluctant to take reality seriously.

Minority Leader John Boehner described the overwhelming scientific consensus that carbon dioxide is contributing to climate change as “comical” during an appearance on Sunday, noting that cow flatulence contributes CO2 to the environment all the time.

Appearing on ABC’s This Week, the Ohio Republican was asked what to describe the GOP plan to dealing with greenhouse gas emissions, “which every major scientific organization said is contributing to climate change.”

Boehner replied: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know when they do what they do you’ve got more carbon dioxide.”

The transcript of Boehner’s remarks is online, and his office was proud enough of Boehner’s on-air performance to post a video clip of his remarks to his YouTube page.

Remember, this isn’t just some random conservative blogger or radio personality. John Boehner is an experienced lawmaker, the leader of the House Republican caucus, and the man who would be Speaker of the House in the event of a GOP majority. And yet, facing a serious climate crisis, Boehner doesn’t understand the debate, doesn’t have a coherent policy prescription, and is openly derisive of reality.

What a trainwreck.

Update: Joe Room added, “One of the GOP’s senior leaders thinks this debate is about whether carbon dioxide is a carcinogen? And thinks carcinogens harm the environment, rather than people? And thinks that cows are of concern because they produce carbon dioxide, rather than methane?”

Again, the problem isn’t just that Boehner has the wrong answer, it’s that he doesn’t even understand the question. The man who would be Speaker….

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.