Are climate-science denialists fit for public office? An elephant in the room? What elephant?

Jonathan Chait, writing at, believes climate-science denialists should be disqualified from holding public office.

If a candidate for a managerial job at your office insists that two plus three equals seven, it wouldn’t matter how well-qualified this candidate may be at any other aspect of the job…

That’s true about hiring decisions. There are some things so basic, so necessary to get right, that any job applicant with the wrong answer to a critically important question — much less insistence on the wrong answer — needs to be culled from the list of applicants. Organizations really cannot hire an ignoramus without damaging their whole operation and everyone in it.

Simple. No? And yet, for some — and here we turn to the editorial board of our local Wisconsin State Journal — it’s just impossibly difficult.

Toles-GOPSkateThe fact is, climate-science denialism is an almost universal orthodoxy among national Republican office-holders. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville), a perennial favorite at the State Journal, claims he doesn’t know whether human activity is contributing to climate change. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) blames sunspots:

Johnson said extreme weather phenomena were better explained by sunspots than an overload of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere…. “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change,” Johnson said. “It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination.”

Alas, Ryan and Johnson illustrate the rule within their party. Almost no Republican on the national stage will acknowledge that climate change is real or that fossil fuels are the major cause of it. Even conservative pundits like George Will and Charles Krauthammer — who cannot, for obvious reasons, fear getting ‘primaried’ or losing their nonexistent public offices — will appear on Fox News and just grasp for reasons to doubt the scientific evidence.

This poses a terrible problem for the Wisconsin State Journal and indeed for all the press trying to appear sensible without ever saying that so-and-so (in fact, so-and-so’s entire party) is peddling truly dangerous foolishness, and has been doing so for at least a decade.

Talk about your elephant in the room, or rather don’t talk about it…  What kind of journalist or journalism takes this absurd oath of silence?