The Wall Street Journal blogs from the ongoing ECO:nomics conference:

The conventional wisdom among the boys on the bus — including us — has been that there’s essentially no difference among the three presidential contenders on climate-change policy.

Really? I know I live in a bubble, but … really?

Since there are some rather obvious climate policy differences between the candidates, I’m taking this to mean one of several things:

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  1. Conventional wisdom relegates the apparent differences between the candidates to the level of rhetoric, not policy. McCain says nice things about nuclear; Obama hearts ethanol; Clinton wants utilities to behave. All of this is just, in the WSJ‘s words, so much “hot air.”
  2. Or maybe conventional wisdom holds that the policy differences are so hopelessly wonky as to be irrelevant. Broadly speaking, all three candidates want cap-and-trade, and that’s what counts. Airy details around allowance allocations are of concern only to environmentalists and congresscritters.
  3. Or maybe the conventional wisdom truly doesn’t understand that the candidates differ in any meaningful way on climate policy.

None of these interpretations is particularly heartening, although at least there’s a logic to No. 1 and 2. No. 3 is just depressing. In any case, bear in mind that the WSJ reporting on energy issues is generally quite good, so when these reporters casually toss off the opinion that the candidates are indistinguishable, you start to gain some insight into why this issue gets so little play.

(As an aside: I’m a fan of the recent trend in blogs by journalists for just this sort of thing. These sorts of offhand, loosely structured observations would rarely make it into a feature story, and they’re damned interesting.)