The basic trick is to show up looking nice, well dressed, civil, and then, in a composed voice, lie and dissemble to your heart’s content. All in evidence at today’s hearing, focused on coal and carbon capture, of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Climate Change.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.): “Some estimates that I read are that the cost of [a carbon] cap would increase the cost of electricity to the consumer by as much as 45 percent.”

Well, perhaps. But here we have an analysis from George Bush’s EPA of the Climate Stewardship Act (cosponsors John McCain and Joe Lieberman). On page 3, it reads:

Electricity prices are projected to increase 22% in 2030 and 25% in 2050, assuming the full cost of allowances are passed on to consumers (as is the case in a full auction). If allowances are given directly to power companies, the cost of those allowances would not be passed on to consumers in regulated electricity markets, so electricity price increases would be lower in much of the country.

Michael Morris, CEO of American Electric Power, noted the following with a straight face:

This is a very different time line than the one that we shared a few decades ago when my company and my industry were very strong on the notion of not now, not ever. This is a willing industry, a willing company, a willing people who simply want to have a time line to allow the technology to develop so that in fact we don’t just get a political soundbite, but we get something that works … In the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s we had used more electricity in this country than ever before in every decade; the air, the water had gotten cleaner in each of those decades.

And their willingness is manifested in the swift progress being made Congress’ continuing inability to pass anything resembling sound energy policy.

Likewise, shrewd use of post hoc ergo propter hoc logic proves beyond all doubt that air and water quality improvements over the past 40 years had everything to do with increased electricity consumption strict government mandates concerning air and water quality.

It went on like this. The low point was when Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) made the predictable point that four moose “belch” as much carbon per year as one car. To this, Markey replied, “We might look at moose belch offsetting legislation.”

And to that I say, good work — it’s about time congressmen started responding to the burp-and-fart excuse for inaction with the sarcasm and mockery it so fragrantly deserves.