[NOTE: The following is purely a work of fiction. Any resemblance to true persons, places, or events is purely coincidental.]
My first hint that something very strange was happening came only days before the president's State of the Union address.
One of the mainstream news sites reported that the White House had leaked that the speech was going to include a major announcement about climate change. This, in itself, was merely encouraging: the President had been talking the talk for years, but let the opposition party control the agenda, and especially after the last election they had enough power to effectively bury the issue. What got my attention was a comment buried in the story by the new Speaker of the House, that he was very serious about confronting this existential threat to humanity, and would support only the most vigorous attempts to deal with it.
I was extremely skeptical, but the story included an unambiguous quote. "We can no longer accept half-measures like cap-and-trade," the Speaker said. "We must use every regulatory and legislative tool at our disposal, including taxes and criminalization of excess carbon emissions if necessary. But I believe we may have to go further, and address the larger problem of how we are effectively killing the planet in countless other ways. I look forward to hearing the President's ideas, and having a serious dialog about remedies."
"That guy's lost his mind," I told my wife when I finished reading. It was either that, or he'd been drinking heavily. Either way, the chances of anything serious happening were next to nil after the Right had a field day explaining away the "gaffe." Just to be sure, I planned to watch all of the Sunday talk shows.