Poor Carly Fiorina. To make conservative ideologues happy, she has to abandon science and her previous positions on the key issues of global warming and clean energy.

But to win election statewide, she has to appeal to the majority of California voters, who understand that clean energy is the key to the state’s long-term economic and job growth — and that unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases will devastate California more than most states.

And so in her first debate with climate and clean energy champion Sen. Barbara Boxer, she simply couldn’t give a straightforward answer to the simple question of whether she supported the Big Oil funded Prop 23 effort to gut California’s landmark climate and clean energy law, Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32).

Let’s go to the videotape (watch to the end):

Ouch.

You know that you have screwed up as a conservative politician when the center-right Politico says so:

Fiorina’s major stumble came on the issue of Proposition 23, which would suspend AB 32. She said the focus should be on federal climate legislation and that she had not yet taken a position on the proposition.

“If you can’t take a stand on Prop 23, I don’t know what you will take a stand on,” Boxer responded.

Talking to reporters after the debate, Fiorina sidestepped the issue, saying she would “probably” take a position on Prop 23 before November, though it’s not her main priority. She insisted the real referendum on energy legislation “is on the ballot — and her name is Sen. Barbara Boxer.”

You’ll note that Fiorina immediately jumps to the old right-wing talking point created by Frank Luntz for conservatives who want to sound like they care about global warming and clean energy without actually having to do anything: We need to fund energy R&D.

As for her claim that AB 32 is a job-killer, not only do 118 economists disagree, but so did Fiorina and rational Republicans just two years ago: