CHICAGO
02/02/2011 05:39 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Mark Kirk: Al Gore Is Why I Changed My Mind On Cap-And-Trade

As a Congressman, Mark Kirk represented a moderate district north of Chicago. The Republican found himself steering a rare middle path, siding with Democrats on issues like abortion and some environmental concerns.

Most notably, he crossed the aisle to help Democrats in the House pass cap-and-trade legislation, a vote for which he came under a great deal of criticism from Republican sources.

When he decided to run for Senate, Kirk turned sharply to the right, vowing to "lead the effort" to repeal health care reform and soliciting support from Sarah Palin. And he reversed course on cap-and-trade as well, saying that his vote was for the "narrow interests" of his district, and that he'd vote differently as a Senator for the whole state.

Now-Senator Kirk has offered a number of explanations for his move to oppose the climate change legislation. But perhaps his most colorful came in a comment in a story yesterday by environmentalist blog Greenwire:

"The consensus behind the climate change bill collapsed and then further deteriorated with the personal and political collapse of Vice President [Al] Gore," Kirk said in a brief interview last week.

That's right: Kirk walked away from sweeping environmental overhaul because Al Gore, a major advocate for the cause, was recently accused of having "unwanted sexual contact" with a masseuse in 2006 (no charges were filed), and separated from his wife shortly thereafter.

Forget cataclysmic global consequences of greenhouse gases: there are serious issues to be worried about.

(Hat-tip to Talking Points Memo, via Progress Illinois.)