Oh, Heartland Institute. We thought you were climate-sanity adversaries on par with Sauron, but your latest PR move reminds us more of Wile E. Coyote: desperate overreach followed by spectacular flameout.

Let’s get up to speed. Ahead of its 7th International Conference on Climate Change (which is basically like Burning Man for deniers, but with more peyote and charts), the Chicago-based climate denial think tank launched a billboard campaign on the Eisenhower Expressway that equates belief in climate change to mass murder. It did so by featuring the looming mugs of Ted “The Unabomber” Kaczynski, Fidel Castro, and Charles Manson next to the phrase, “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”

Its reasons were plain: “Still believing in man-made global warming … is more than a little nutty. In fact, some really crazy people use it to justify immoral and frightening behavior.” But before the Heartland Institute folks could realize their dream of launching future billboards connecting Osama Bin Laden with wind power or John Wayne Gacy with backyard chickens, massive public outcry led them to cancel the campaign. LOLsob:

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We know that our billboard angered and disappointed many of Heartland’s friends and supporters, but we hope they understand what we were trying to do with this experiment. We do not apologize for running the ad, and we will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate.

I won’t get into quaint optimism of launching a modern PR “experiment” by billboard (what internet?). I can’t even take umbrage at the fact that the Heartland Institute hopes to paint us kindly climate advocates as bunker-dwelling psychos with stockpiles of C4. Mostly, I’m just sad that I won’t ever get to have a highway commute filled with an unending parade of psychotic killers and genocidal madmen serenading me with universal truths and acknowledged facts.

But you know what? Someone famous (and probably from Hollywood) once said that you must be the change you want to see in the world. Because one should never ignore the advice of famous people, we at Grist have taken the liberty of continuing Heartland’s noble mission.

Behold: a rogue’s gallery of some of the world’s greatest killers, sociopaths, despots, and evildoers — all sharing incontrovertible truths and proven science fact.

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P.S.: We’re just getting started.

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