Heartland Institute Crashes Through The Overton Window

A Heartland Institute billboard along Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway

Last October, in Twilight Zone Candidates, we noted that the then current crop of GOP presidential candidates were forced to out-crazy each other in order to secure the support of the extremist wing of the Rethuglican electorate. We agreed with the conventional wisdom that once the nomination was settled, as it is now with Mittens as the presumptive nominee, the party and its corporate sponsors would tack back towards the middle in order to appeal to the mythical middle ( i.e. undecided, low information voters).

But imagine our surprise when one of the right wing’s most supposedly prestigious  think tanks, the secretly and well-funded Heartland Institute, launched an advertising campaign designed to promote its upcoming climate change denial conference with the billboard pictured above. Think Progress describes it thus:

The UK Guardian, which broke the story this morning, calls this “possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns.

But let’s be clear. This is not some “oops” moment by an individual overzealous Heartland employee with catastrophically poor judgment. Quite the reverse.

This is a collective act by the Institute expressing its core worldview. A sustained billboard campaign would have to be signed off at the highest levels. Heartland displays the above image on its main website, proudly announcing its campaign and linking to its robust defense of “Our Billboards” on its conference website.

By equating the legions of respected climate scientists and world leaders who are warming about the dangers of anthropogenic climate change with the convicted eco-terrorist and murderer Ted Kaczynski, Heartland just threw a brick through The Overton Window, shattering any illusion that the right wing’s craziest inmates aren’t now in control of  the asylum.

Time again to cue the opening of Rod Serling‘s Twilight Zone, which seems to have expanded into a black hole that is now swallowing the whole conservative movement.

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