PALIN PONDERS CAP AND TRADE…. Last year, the McCain/Palin ticket touted a cap-and-trade proposal as their solution to combating climate change. John McCain has already changed direction — he recently labeled the policy a “far-left” agenda item — and today, Sarah Palin has an op-ed in the Washington Post that also denounces the idea.

The soon-to-be-ex governor of Alaska, instead of retreating from politics, has published a 700-word piece explaining that she’s “deeply concerned” about the Democratic plan.

American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president’s cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy.

There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn’t lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive!

In an impressive feat, Palin managed to write an entire piece about energy policy without mentioning the words “global warming,” “climate change,” “carbon,” or “emissions.” There’s “no denying” the need to address the issue, but there’s also no explaining why. (She did, however, manage to work in the phrase “cap-and-tax” four times.)

So, if Palin doesn’t care for cap-and-trade anymore, what’s her vision for U.S. energy policy? All we have to do, she explains, is “tap the resources that God created right underfoot on American soil.” That means drilling in Alaska, drilling in Western states, drilling off the U.S. coasts, and making use of “abundant coal.”

As a substantive matter, the Atlantic‘s Conor Clarke explained that Palin’s op-ed suggests she “does not understand cap and trade.” Clarke added that Palin’s piece “displays an ignorance for the subject so profound it’s almost gutsy. Almost.” Jon Chait said it “has that 9th grade, five paragraph essay style along with random bits of right-wing jargon sprinkled throughout in appropriate contexts.”

Kate Sheppard added the governor’s op-ed “is just bad enough to make me wonder if Palin may have written it herself.” Ouch.

As a political matter, Palin’s op-ed was probably the first in a series of steps to give people the impression that she knows something about public policy. She’s about more than poorly-written Facebook messages, poorly-written Twitter messages, and poorly-written speeches — she’s also willing to publish poorly-written newspaper pieces.

Update: Media Matters Action Network also does a nice job fact-checking the piece here.

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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.