DAVID VITTER PLAYS FAST AND LOOSE…. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), still trying to find credibility after getting caught in a prostitution scandal, has invested considerable energy in attacking the pending climate change bill. The problem is, Vitter has a little trouble with reading comprehension.

As Vitter sees it, the climate legislation, a version of which already passed the House with bipartisan support, would give President Obama near-dictatorial powers. Based on the senator’s allegations, the routinely silly Washington Examiner said the bill “requires President Obama to act like Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez” and assume emergency powers if the Environmental Protection Agency declares a “climate emergency.”

Vitter liked the report so much, he promoted it on his website.

As you might have guessed, this isn’t true in the slightest. In fact, conservative blogger Ed Morrissey, writing for the far-right Hot Air blog, did some fact-checking of David Vitter’s bogus claims.

So the big consequence is that in 2015, and every four years afterward, the executive branch will have to draft recommendations for legislative action on reducing greenhouse gases. The EPA could certainly operate outside of those parameters, which would give the President at that time a lot of power to dictate certain responses within the regulatory framework — but that power exists now, and is referenced by “existing statutory authority”, which would not mean new dictatorial powers over production. In fact, Obama has threatened to wield it on a few occasions if Congress fails to pass cap-and-trade.

That’s not to say that this bill isn’t dangerous, but it simply doesn’t do what Vitter claims. Nowhere in either bill does the term “climate emergency” appear, which Vitter claims is the lever through which the President will claim dictatorial powers. We need to focus on the real problems of the bill, chief among them that it will kill jobs to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, rather than generate false hysteria to answer false hysteria.

Now, I obviously disagree with Morrissey about the merit of the legislation, and the seriousness of the climate emergency. I think global warming is real; he doesn’t. I think the climate bill would create jobs; he believes the opposite.

But at least Morrissey believes the debate should be about what’s actually in the bill.

It seems like an obvious sort of assumption, but alas, it eludes right-wing senators like David Vitter.

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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.