In a report for “The Campaign Spot” on the National Review, Jim Geraghty gently broke the bad news to conservatives that yes, global warming will be an issue in the 2008 campaign, and the Republican party will concede the time has now come to act to reduce the risks.

To make his case, first Geraghty gave the mic to a fire-breathing Giuliani supporter named Robert Tracinski, who declared for Real Clear Politics:

But the biggest problem for Republicans with McCain’s candidacy is his stance on global warming. McCain has been an active supporter of the global warming hysteria — for which he has been lauded by the radical environmentalists — and he is a co-sponsor of a leftist scheme for energy rationing. The McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Actwould impose an arbitrary cap on America’s main sources of energy production, to be enforced by a huge network of federal taxes and regulations.

The irony is that McCain won in South Carolina among voters whose top concern is the economy. Don’t these voters realize what a whole new regime of energy taxes and regulations would do to the economy?

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!

No matter what happens, there is likely to be a huge debate in the coming years over global warming — whether it’s really happening, whether it’s actually caused by human beings, and what to do about it. But if the Republicans nominate McCain, that political debate will be over, and Al Gore and the left will have won it — thanks to John McCain.

Geraghty let that stand, thinking others would agree with him that it was an extreme statement. He went on to try and reason with the NR crowd:

I don’t buy into the global warming hype … but I’m struck by how regularly [Rush Limbaugh] jokes about the concept of global warming. A lot of his radio talk show brethren are in the same boat, saying day after day, “hey, cold weather today. So much for global warming.”

The problem is, they’re only preaching skepticism to the converted. The independents and the centrists and the soccer moms and everybody whose vote is needed in the general election is already convinced that it’s happening. Whenever there’s a big storm or unusual weather, they buy into it. If you put the finest skeptical scientists and researchers from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and American Enterprise Institute into a room with a couple hundred Americans, and let them talk until they’re blue in the face, I’m not sure how much you would move the dials.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

In an era where Wal-Mart puts enormous efforts into making the case that it is green, that British Petroleum runs ads about how they’re developing alternative fuels, General Electric touts its eco-magination … All of these companies know where public opinion is, and where its customers are. They’re all moving as fast as they can, and applying tremendous resources to prove, “we’re not part of the problem, we’re part of the solution.”

Geraghty’s readers shot back: “You big squishy sellout.” In desperation, he turned on the electorate and blamed “centrists and soccer moms,” among others:

It would be great if Rush listeners were, by themselves, a winning majority in presidential politics. But they’re not; there are a lot of soccer moms and moderates and squishes and independents and barely-engaged voters who don’t do their homework on the issues, so to speak. They don’t think a great deal about them; they feel. Yes, this Oprah-fication of politics is a bad trend for the Republic. But we’re not going to fix it between now and Election Day 2008.

Geraghty then pointed out that all four surviving candidates from the GOP now agree that global warming is man-made, according to a candidates poll from CBS News.

(Despite this nod to reality, our own Grist candidate chart indicates that not a single Republican is calling for a moratorium on the construction of carbon-emitting, coal-fired power plants. John McCain talks about climate change, as any intelligent senator from hot, dry Arizona must, but whether he intends to actually do anything about it is much less certain. Still, because he accepts what climate scientists say about its causes, he’s considered a sellout by the far right.)

Meanwhile the Reagan-like candidate most favored by Limbaugh, Fred Thompson, has flopped on the campaign trail and given up his amble for president.

And so the tables turn, and on the issue of global warming, even Republicans tune out Limbaugh.

Not a moment too soon, it turns out. Limbaugh has given up making factual arguments, and reduced himself to claiming that those who believe in the reality of global warming are “stupid” — and besides, it’s against God.