Santorum swamped Romney (sorry) at two caucuses and a nonbinding primary yesterday, suggesting that his candidacy is a less funny joke than previously thought. Well whatever, they’ve clearly been playing King of the Mountain all campaign season, knocking each other off the top of the dung heap — at this point, do we care which of the anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-health care climate deniers gets the nod? Yeah, because when it comes to climate change (and everything else), Santorum doubles down on the wild-eyed conspiracy theories.

While campaigning in Colorado — one of the caucuses, by the way, that he went on to win — Santorum called global warming a “hoax.” This is far from a new meme, but as Chris Mooney explains at DeSmogBlog, it goes well beyond Romney-style mealy-mouthed denialism.

A hoax, after all, implies nothing if not a coordinated effort to make people believe something that is known not to be true. So there has to be a cabal, a conscious effort at deception. And if the issue is global warming, then the cabal itself has to be global — for so is the scientific community and the international community seeking action on the issue.

What such a hoax would actually entail boggles the mind — it could never be pulled off — but never mind. The point is that Santorum is now lending implicit credence to the idea.

There are plenty of troglodytic voters who will respond to the idea that the scientific elite is fabricating evidence, probably to get all that sweet sweet science money. Hell, that delusion is what led someone to hack the Climatic Research Unit’s emails, not to mention leading a lot of bloggers and pundits to pretend the hacked messages pointed to some sort of nefarious scheme. But it’s a measure more chilling when the person pulling the Foucault’s Pendulum schtick is also the one who could be in charge of environmental policy and research funding for the entire country.

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