McCain's embrace of cap-and-trade didn't happen in a vacuum: It was an attempt, albeit a misguided one, to break with the heads-in-the-sand approach to energy and climate change that far too many conservatives have been taking for far too long. And the right-wing zeal for drilling in ANWR has been part of the problem, not part of the solution: It's licensed conservatives to posture about energy independence while sidestepping the global-warming debate entirely.
What "debate"? Like the "debate" over whether JFK was killed by the CIA or the Mob? To expect conservatives to participate in a "debate" over global warming is to seek debate between truth and error, between fact and falsehood. Such debate serves no good purpose. Belief in manmade global warming is (a) non-scientific, and (b) of no political consequence.
As to (a), John Coleman -- the meterologist who founded The Weather Channel -- has called global warming "the greatest scam in history," a fraud perpetrated by "dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create an illusion of rapid global warming."
There seems to be general agreement that global temperatures warmed in the 20th century, but there is every reason to believe that this is just a function of a normal interglacial pattern. The claim that this pattern was caused by human carbon-fuel use was cooked using theoretical computer models and faked data. More than that, it is easy to recognize the global warming scare as a gussied-up retread of Paul Ehrlich's "Population Bomb" nonsense, a piece of misanthropic Malthusian hype.
Now, as to (b), global warming has no political consequence because as an issue it appeals only to elites, who are few in number and are overwhelmingly liberal to begin with. Global warming functions only as an argument for liberal elites to do what they would do anyway: raise taxes and impose punitive regulations to cripple economic growth.
Despite the success of Al Gore in getting grade schools to force children to watch his stupid science-fiction film, there is not now, and never will be, a mass constituency demanding Kyoto-type regulation: "Please, government experts, we beg you: Strangle our economy! Force us to drive crappy, underpowered little cars! Make our lives miserable with unnecessary austerity! We want to huddle up shivering every winter!"
Support for drilling ANWR is not a "heads-in-the-sand approach." Support for global warming theory, however, is a heads-up-their-asses approach.