Despite occasional flashes of insight, Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby is by and large a typical left-leaning beltway pundit, meaning you can reliably expect one of two thoughts from him: "both sides suck and I’m smarter than either" or "I’m a liberal but dirty hippies are stupid."

Yesterday’s column, subtitled "A Bush U-Turn On Climate Change?”, is a combination of the two. It sets itself apart from the pack via an extraordinary degree of naivete. Check this out:

The grand prize for Nixon-to-China inversions will go to the administration if it tackles climate change.

A fantasy, you say? On Saturday I put the case for a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system to James Connaughton, the head of the Council on Environmental Quality at the White House. Far from denouncing these policies as eco-socialist nonsense, Connaughton sounded open to them. "In concept I can agree with you," he said. Something must be done to stem demand for climate-warming energy, and although there are several ways of getting there, a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system would be the most "elegant."

Whoa! This may be spin, but it’s certainly new spin.

Whoa! Meanwhile, the day after Mallaby spoke with Connaughton, the day before the column appeared, probably as it was being written, the Bush administration categorically denied any change of heart on climate change.

This exposes any number of centrist pundit pathologies, but I’ll leave them to the reader to taxonomize.