Texas governor Rick Perry is now all but officially in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Weighting individuals by chance of winning, I believe that solidly pushes the GOP field into the insane/it's-a-hoax/conspiracy-minded climate change denial as opposed to the I-don't-believe-it-now/it-isn't-because-of-humans/we-can't-know flavor of denial. I covered similar ground not long ago, but it is worth reiterating how a major political party in a world-leading (they would tell you most exceptional ever) country can completely divorce itself from reality.
From the bottom of the heap there is not much weight because of little chance to win. Picking out "here is no such thing as global warming" Rick Santorum, "it's a scam" Herman Cain, and from doubtful to "the greatest hoax" Ron Paul, you have the crazy to balance out the scrambling to rebrand as a denier Newt Gingrich and the maybe not even denier but still opposed to doing anything about it Gary Johnson and Jon Huntsman.
I have not been high on the chances of the Minnesotans, Congresswomen Michele Bachmann and former governor Tim Pawlenty, though they have at times been pegged as the leading alternative to nominal front-runner Mitt Romney. You can call them a wash with Bachmann covering the crazy denial and Pawlenty doing the craven backtracking from taking the issue seriously to calling for inaction because of made up uncertainty. If anything, the extremeness (relative to the science; it is common within her party) of Bachmann's radical views and Pawlenty's campaign fizzling tilts the scale toward crazy.
That takes us up to Mitt Romney. He is widely known (or, depending on your view, notorius) for his flip flops on issues. Yet his shifts in stance for 2008 were an effort to push to the right of that year's field, while holding basically the same spot for 2012 has him on the left side of this GOP field. He now holds a non-denialist stance on the science but tries to have it both ways by opposing action.
The entrance of Perry puts what I consider to be the most serious challenger to Romney in the race, and Perry brings into the race a much "cleaner" scorched Earth stance on climate. Unlike Gingrich, Pawlenty, and Romney, there was never a period of sanity to dog Perry with the Republican side of the electorate.
The whole of the Republican party has not jumped off the cliff into the denial abyss. But might it collectively be far enough gone and the rest of the political spectrum too stagnant to even make minimal effort to have America not be left behind in the 20th century? If the GOP takes the presidency with an ardent denier like Perry it certainly will not bode well.