TALK ABOUT HOT AIR…. If you missed it, Ali Frick had a great item yesterday on Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Exxon) appearance on C-SPAN to discuss global warming. Barton, one of Congress’ most ardent pollution supporters, turned in a performance that was a classic for the genre.

It’s worth watching in full, but there were a couple of head-shaking quotes that stood out. Barton argued, for example, that carbon dioxide can’t be a pollutant. “I am creating it as I talk to you,” he said. “It’s in your Coca-Cola, you’re Dr. Pepper, your Perrier water. It is necessary for human life. It is odorless, colorless, tasteless, does not cause cancer, does not cause asthma.”

He added, “[S]omething that the Democrat [sic] sponsors do not point out, a lot of the CO2 that is created in the United States is naturally created. You can’t regulate God. Not even the Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress can regulate God.”

Now, this isn’t just about pointing and laughing at the fool. I’m bringing this up for two reasons.

First, Barton is not just some random right-wing blogger; he’s not even just some random backbencher on the Hill. Republicans have made Barton the go-to guy on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, taking the lead on climate change policy for the House GOP caucus. It speaks volumes about the party’s interest in global warming.

And second, this talk about small amounts of carbon dioxide is increasingly common in conservative circles, so it’s probably worth noting how very silly it is. EPA regulations, as Kate Sheppard recently noted, are targeting “major industrial sources emitting at least 25,000 metric tons of carbon per year, as well as the transportation sector.”

It’s not about individuals speaking, or soft drinks, or “regulating God.”

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.