John McCain gave a major speech today in which he said that energy dependence and global warming are major threats to America’s future that urgently need to be addressed.

The policy section started off with this great bit:

Energy efficiency by using improved technology and practicing sensible habits in our homes, businesses and automobiles is a big part of the answer, and is something we can achieve right now. And new advances will make conservation an ever more important part of the solution. Improved light bulbs can use much less energy; smart grid technology can help homeowners and businesses lower their energy use, and breakthroughs in high tech materials can greatly improve fuel efficiency in the transportation sector. We need to dispel the image of conservation that entails shivering in cold rooms, reading by candlelight, and lower productivity.

After that it drifted into the usual grab bag of ethanol (which you’ll recall he used to oppose), nuclear, and cap-and-trade.

Not that long ago I would have called this an unusually bold and progressive plan for a Republican, but Schwarzenegger and a cadre of green Republican governors and mayors across the country have raised the bar. I will say that at the presidential level, when it comes to climate and energy, McCain’s about the best you can do.

Of course, it didn’t help his cause when the very same day it was announced that former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger has “endorsed John McCain for President and will advise his campaign on energy and national security issues.” Schlesinger is a long-time global warming skeptic with deep ties to dirty energy industries. Which just goes to show: the individual characteristics and positions of the nominee are not as important as the political infrastructure they bring into office with them, and a McCain victory will mean the continuing dominance of the Republican infrastructure, for better or worse.