BARTON IDENTIFIES ‘CARBONGATE’…. Throughout his career, Rep. Joe Barton, the Republican congressman from ExxonMobil, has been something of an embarrassment. Part of the problem is his reflexive right-wing ideology. Another part is his well-deserved reputation for being the most pro-pollution lawmaker on the Hill.

But perhaps the most troubling aspect of the congressman’s record is the fact that he’s conspicuously unintelligent. On a variety of subjects, on a variety of occasions, Barton has humiliated himself. Just in recent months, it’s happened over and over and over and over again.

With that in mind, Barton appeared on (where else?) Fox News this morning to talk about Alan Carlin, a global-warming denying economist, whose hobby wasn’t taken seriously by the EPA. The Texas Republican compared the “story” to the Watergate scandal. Seriously.

This morning on “America’s Newsroom,” the industry-friendly Texas Republican accused the EPA of suppressing the report, and declared that “just as Nixon had Watergate, Obama now has Carbongate to deal with.” […]

(Note that Barton called Carlin “a scientist at the EPA.” In fact, Carlin has worked for the agency since months after its founding in 1971, but he does not hold an advanced degree in any natural science, and he has always worked as an economist.)

So just to compare: Watergate involved the cover-up of a criminal enterprise directed from the Oval Office. “Carbongate” involves the EPA ignoring a scientific study by a non-scientist that it never commissioned and which hasn’t been published in any scientific journal.

If you’re just joining us, and aren’t sure what the Carlin “story” is all about, check yesterday’s post on the subject.

It’s only been a far-right hobbyhorse for a week, and it’s already mind-numbing.

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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.