A TELLING CHOICE…. House Republicans will soon have to decide who’ll be the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, replacing Rep. Henry Waxman (D), as the chamber changes party hands. This may not sound especially interesting, but consider who’s in the running for the post.

The current ranking member is ExxonMobil’s Texas’ Joe Barton (R), best known as the pro-pollution congressman who apologized to BP after it dumped oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Barton would be in line for the chairmanship, though caucus term limits suggest he’s ineligible. Barton is seeking a waiver so he can get the gavel.

But if Republicans decline his request, Rep. John Shimkus (R) wants the gig. If you’ve forgotten the name, Andrew Restuccia reminds us:

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who has said he wants to take over as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has consistently denied the broad scientific consensus behind climate change, often citing the Bible or grossly oversimplifying biology to back up his position.

Restuccia offers a greatest-hits package of Shimkus quotes, and re-reading them, it’s hard to believe Shimkus is even a member of Congress, worse yet in a position to oversee the House committee dealing with energy policy.

We are, after all, talking about a congressman who doesn’t want to reduce carbon emissions, because it would be “taking away plant food.” Shimkus has also cited the Book of Genesis as a possible response to global warming — his God will protect life on earth, so we have nothing to worry about.

He also once said, “Today we have 388 parts per million in the atmosphere. I believe in the days of the dinosaurs, where we had the most flora and fauna, we were probably at 4,000 parts per million. There is a theological debate that this a carbon-starved planet, not too much carbon.”

That Shimkus would even be considered to lead the House Energy and Commerce Committee tells us quite a bit about the intellectual prowess of congressional Republicans in the 21st century.

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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.