09/14/2011 09:00 pm ET Updated Nov 14, 2011

Meet West Virginia's Science-Denying Gubernatorial Candidates

WASHINGTON -- The two front-runner candidates in the West Virginia gubernatorial race traded barbs in a televised debate Tuesday night, but they agreed to deny the science behind climate change.

"We’re in a cooling cycle," said GOP businessman Bill Maloney when asked by West Virginia MetroNews' Hoppy Kercheval if he believed humans are responsible for causing the world to warm.

Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin's answer wasn't much better, although it was at least factually accurate. "Once again, there are differences of opinion as to whether we’re in global warming now." (What he didn't mention was that 98 percent of scientists still accept the evidence for human-induced climate change.)

Those responses, first reported by Ken Ward Jr. in the Charleston Gazzette's Coal Tattoo, reflect a growing willingness among conservative lawmakers to reject the overwhelming evidence of global warming.

In a stump speech in August, Texas Gov. Rick Perry took his denial of climate change one step further when he told a New Hampshire business crowd that scientists have cooked up the data on global warming for the cash.

"We're seeing weekly, or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what's causing the climate to change," Perry said. "Yes, our climates change. They've been changing ever since the earth was formed.

Other climate change deniers on the presidential campaign trail include former CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

Tuesday's gubernatorial debate in Charleston marks the final debate between Maloney and Tomblin before the special gubernatorial election on Oct. 4.