Great Paul Krugman column in The New York Times today. And another absurd Charles Krauthammer column in The Washington Post — yes, I know, that’s a dog bites man story.

They both teed off Nancy Pelosi’s statement that one of the reasons she was blocking a vote on coastal drilling was, “I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet.”

Krugman understood that, notwithstanding the fact that offshore drilling would never have a significant impact on oil prices, she was talking about global warming: “Beyond that, Ms. Pelosi’s response shows that she understands the deeper issues behind the current energy debate.”

As Krugman points out, that point is utterly lost on Senator McCain, who has now become “a standard drill-and-burn Republican.” Krugman’s worry:

… if a completely bogus claim that environmental protection is raising energy prices can get this much political traction, what are the chances of getting serious action against global warming? After all, a cap-and-trade system would in effect be a tax on carbon (though Mr. McCain apparently doesn’t know that), and really would raise energy prices.

Exactly.

Needless to say, this point is entirely lost on Charles Krauthammer. Entirely.

His column on the subject never mentions global warming. He makes a completely bogus argument that drilling here makes more sense environmentally than drilling in Nigeria since America’s environmental laws are tougher than those around the planet:

The net environmental effect of Pelosi’s no-drilling willfulness is negative. Outsourcing U.S. oil production does nothing to lessen worldwide environmental despoliation. It simply exports it to more corrupt, less efficient, more unstable parts of the world — thereby increasing net planetary damage.

Does Charles Krauthammer really think that if we drill a little more here that the world won’t drill for oil in Venezuela and Equatorial Guinea and the Arctic with petroleum above $100 a barrel? This argument is so transparently nonsensical, I’m surprised even a blinkered columnist as Krauthammer would stoop to make it.

He then tries to blame the Democrats for pushing biofuels, when it was the 2005 Energy Bill, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican president, that doubled the corn ethanol mandate.

The Washington Post should be embarrassed to run Krauthammer’s column. But in the name of balance, mainstream newspapers have stuffed their op-ed pages with conservative know-nothings who continue to spread disinformation and undermine the opportunity for an informed debate might actually solve the nation’s and planet’s problem.

So the answer to Krugman’s question “Can this planet be saved?” is “not if conservatives rule.”

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.