Flagging this very interesting post from Pascal Riche about (what Riche sees as) a leftward drift in the American public, Matt Yglesias makes a point that I think too few progressives — and too few environmentalists — sufficiently appreciate: all the administration’s deceptions, however irritating, are a pretty clear indication that the game is up.

Liberals have a habit of screaming ourselves blue in the face about the President’s lying ways, which is appropriate, but it’s worth taking a certain amount of satisfaction in the fact that he bothers to lie about this stuff.

Consider the environment. Neither the "clean skies" initiative nor the "healthy forests" initiatives are good ways of cleaning the air or securing the health of our forests. But by naming his initiatives thus, Bush has, in fact, surrendered an important part of the political terrain. The discourse has essentially shifted to a point where we take it for granted that federal regulations should be making the skies clean and the forests healthy. Instead of a debate about whether to undertake environment-friendly initiative we are — ostensibly at least — arguing over which party will, in fact, bring us clean skies and healthy forests.

And it’s like that more-or-less across the board.

This is especially worth remembering in light of the fact that the Senate just passed an amendment to the energy bill that would explicitly address climate change.

The amendment (from Sen. Chuck Hagel — see interview here) is pretty weak, certainly light years from what we’ll ultimately need.

But the terrain has now shifted. The U.S. Senate is no longer debating about whether, as Sen. Inhofe says, global warming is a "hoax." It’s debating what to do about it.

From this point on, if you’re an elected U.S. government official and you want to do nothing about global warming — or roll back global warming regulations — you will have to lie about it.