PAUL BROUN’S PREOCCUPATION WITH DEATH…. Way back in August 2009, we talked about national polls showing pretty strong support for a climate/energy bill. I noted at the time that the polls might change, however, once Republicans argued that the legislation might require child sacrifices.

Ten months later, it looks like I was wrong, and that hasn’t made the list of GOP talking points. But in my defense, I was close.

Rep. Paul Broun (R), the almost comically right-wing Georgian, appeared on the House floor this week to argue against passing energy legislation, which incidentally already passed the House about a year ago. He used an argument that’s almost a parody of itself.

“A lot of old people in Georgia and Florida and all out throughout the southeast and the southwest are dependent on air conditioning just to live,” Broun said. “And if their electricity bills go sky high, as the energy tax is gonna make it happen, if that ever passes there are a lot of people that can’t afford to run their air conditioning anymore and people actually are gonna have a hard time with hyperthermia is what I call it — what we call it in medicine as a medical doctor — which means that their body temperature’s gonna go up, they’re gonna have dehydration, and people are gonna have a lot of problems. And it’s gonna make a greater impact on our health care system and people are gonna die because of that.”

Now, Paul Broun has a certain preoccupation with death by legislation, and it’s a little creepy. This is the same guy, after all, who argued that if private health insurers had to compete with a public plan, the result would “kill people.”

But this dystopian nightmare in which Southerners are killed from a lack of air conditioning, all because policymakers tried to combat global warming, is a new one. (Air conditioning will, of course, continue to be common if the energy bill passes, but I can’t help but wonder how Paul Broun explains how people survived in the South before A/C existed.)

In any case, Matt Finkelstein helps set the record straight: “In fact, recent analyses show that clean energy legislation — like the American Power Act — would create millions of jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil at a minimal cost to consumers. For example, the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that the average household would see ‘between a $136 increase and a $35 dollar decrease in annual energy expenditures.’”

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.