REMEMBER WHEN JOHN MCCAIN BELIEVED IN GLOBAL WARMING?…. It seems hard to believe now, but Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) actually used to be fairly reasonable when it came to climate change.

Before his recent presidential campaign, he worked with center-left senators on a climate bill. In 2007, McCain said he “unequivocally” believes that global warming is “real,” and in 2008, after he’d secured the Republican presidential nomination, the Arizona senator acknowledged the climate crisis and said the United States “needs … a cap-and-trade system.” It was a position he reiterated throughout the year. When asked about this on the campaign trail, McCain even had a reasonable answer for deniers — even if all the science is completely wrong, taking this seriously will lessen our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs, and give us cleaner air.

That was in 2008. What’s McCain saying in 2010? Brad Johnson flagged this McCain gem, delivered in New Hampshire while campaigning for Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte, who also went from being sensible to being conservative on the issue:

“I think it’s an inexact science, and there has been more and more questioning about some of the conclusions that were reached concerning climate change. And I believe that everybody in the world deserves correct answers whether the scientific conclusions were flawed by outside influences. There’s great questions about it that need to be resolved.”

So McCain went from someone who was quite reasonable, especially for a Republican, to being someone who rejects science and believes mysterious “outside influences” may be misleading the world.

For those in the media who think the old John McCain is still in there, and may yet make a straight-talking comeback, please get over it. He’s long gone, and he’s not coming back.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.