In prepping for today’s House debate on Waxman-Markey, I watched a film. (No, not An Inconvenient Truth.)

It was David Mamet’s mindbender, The Spanish Prisoner. The movie takes its title from a venerable long-con so complicated that — I don’t care how many times you’ve seen the film — twenty minutes in and you’ll have no idea who’s zoomin’ who.

It’s the perfect choice, and not just because politics at this level is always part confidence game (with you and me cast as the mark). The movie works so well in part because opponents of the climate bill have their very own Spaniard. And, just as in the film, this guy is no prisoner. He’s part of the con.

Meet Gabriel Calzada. George Will (no stranger to con games, himself) introduced him anew in a column yesterday as “The Spanish Professor.”

You’ll have to listen carefully, though, because key Republicans (Marsha Blackburn, TN, for example) are likely to use code, dropping oblique references to “the report from Spain.” (See p. 434.)

As an indignantly redundant Ed Whitebield (R-KY) described Calzada’s work, the “empirical study” uses “empirical data” to prove that for every “so-called green job” created in Spain under a cap-and-trade regime identical to Waxman-Markey, 2.2 good jobs were lost.

And that’s the good news.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) says that the Spanish Prisoner Professor’s study found we could lose 20 “regular” jobs (see pp. 442-3) for every green one created by the climate bill.

Scary stuff. In fact, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) says that after talking with Calzada, the climate bill now scares him more than the 9/11 terror attacks:

“[Calzada] said, America, are you crazy?We have got 17.5 percent unemployment in Spain, and you want to model your aspects [sic] after us? You have got to be kidding me…this debate is so crazy!”

The GOP fearmongers would have me scared, too, if I didn’t know how this con game worked.

Let’s start with el profesor Calzada himself, who according to a recent piece in the Washington Times, hails from “one of Spain’s leading universities.”

Is it:

a) The University of Salamanca, established in 1218;

b) The University of Navarra, regarded as the best private university in Spain; or,

c) The University of Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid campus, now celebrating its 10th anniversary.

If you guessed “C” you’re right! (Although, URJC has yet to make it on any top 10, 100, or 250 lists of Spanish universities.)

OK, it may not be the most prestigous University in the world (or Spain or Madrid), but Calzada has a wonderful record that stretches back, um, a decade, when he earned his PhD. in economics from URJC, where he is now an Associate Professor of Economics.

Perhaps Calzada has been widely published? Strong but wrong. His school website lists only two obscure and fringy journals, “The Journal of Libertarian Studies” and something called “Economic Affairs y Procesos de Mercado,” for which Calzada may also serve as “assistant manager (subdirector).”

As a final accolade, the site boasts that Calzada “has been economic advisor to several companies in the tourism industry.”

What’s left out is Calzada’s links to several right-wing groups that claim global warming is a hoax.

This is the man Republican leaders cite most frequently to support their bogus claim that Waxman-Markey will lead to the destruction of millions of jobs in the United States.

They’re wrapping things up in the House. After listening to the Republican whiners for several hours (I can’t find my copy of the bill! You have so not proved global warming!), I’m ready to kick back and watch another film.

The bill is going to move over to the Senate, so I better make sure I keep my edge on Republican tactics. Anyone know where I can get my hands on a copy of the 1990 John Cusack classic, The Grifters?