MORE REPUBLICAN REGRESS ON GLOBAL WARMING…. It’s disheartening enough that rejection of climate science has become a benchmark of Republicans’ ideology. It adds insult to injury to see how quickly the party’s perspective is regressing.

It was, after all, literally just a few years ago that plenty of Republicans were willing to take the threat and the science seriously. GOP presidential candidates like John McCain and Mike Huckabee not only acknowledged climate change, they both endorsed cap-and-trade plans. Rank-and-file Republican voters, by and large, believed what the mainstream believed when it came to climate science.

Rep. Fred Upton (R) of Michigan not only publicly characterized global warming as “a serious problem,” he also endorsed reducing carbon emissions so we’d all be “better off.” But has his party has shifted even further to the hard-right, Upton has, too. Brad Johnson has the latest:

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, incoming energy chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) joined Americans For Prosperity (AFP) president Tim Phillips, a global warming denier, to support the lawsuits by global warming polluters against climate rules. One of the companies leading the charge against the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas endangerment finding is Koch Industries, the private pollution giant whose billionaire owners have been directing the Tea Party movement through its AFP front group.

Upton once considered a “moderate on environmental issues,” but has worked hard to refashion himself as a hard-right defender of pollution in recent months. Some Tea Party groups tried to block Upton from taking the gavel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, attacking his past support for energy-efficient light bulbs. Upton previously claimed that “climate change is a serious problem” and that “the world will be better off” if we reduced carbon emissions. However, in the course of the past two years — as he received $20,000 from Koch Industries — Upton has shifted to oppose not only cap-and-trade legislation but any form of limits on climate pollution whatsoever, instead supporting investigations against climate scientists and lawsuits against the EPA and its supposed “unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs.”

This is what it takes to get ahead in Republican politics in 2010. Here’s a politician who clearly knew better, and was well aware of the climate crisis, but then Upton decided he wanted to advance his career. So, he abandoned his previous positions, rejected the science he knew to be true, sold out our collective future, and was rewarded with the chairmanship of the House energy committee.

We’ve clearly reached a remarkable point: to be a contemporary Republican in good standing is to reject every shred of overwhelming evidence pointing to climate change.

But it’s the speed with which the right-wing shift occurred that’s truly impressive. It was, after all, April 2009 when Upton characterized climate change as “a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions.” That was last year. It was 2007 when leading Republican presidential candidates not only acknowledged global warming, but endorsed credible proposals to combat the crisis.

And as 2010 comes to a close, we see that the party is now completely dominated, at every level, by climate deniers, cranks, and fools. Even those who knew better have been cowed into submission by the radicals in their midst.

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.