There is a reason why the conservative base has not embraced the campaign of Jon Huntsman. Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner points to a major liability: Huntsman’s fascination with the extreme environmental movement. He writes about Huntsman’s top policy adviser, Mark McIntosh:

So who the heck is Mark McIntosh, you ask? You’ve probably never heard of him because he is not an elected official, nor has he ever held a highly visible appointed position in a presidential administration. McIntosh’s GOP credentials consists of serving as deputy general counsel to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality during President George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House.

Even so, MacIntosh is perhaps the Big Green environmental movement’s most powerful “Republican.” But don’t take my word for it. Here’s how Think Progress Green, a blog of the ultra-liberal Center for American Progress talk tank, describes Huntsman’s choice as his top policy adviser: “McIntosh has a long record of environmental activism and is now an influential actor in the international movement to stop global warming.”

Indeed, McIntosh’s resume reads like something written for the purpose of making senior executives of radical environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earth Day Network and the Sierra Club shake with delight at the prospect of having one of their own in the advisory role to a GOP presidential seeker.

McIntosh was an attorney for Earth Justice, managed policy issues for the Pew Environment Group and served at the Environmental Law Clinic.

An heir to the A & P fortune, McIntosh is also an adviser to Client Earth, a European environmental activist group that supplies legal aid and personnel to environmental organizations and causes.

You get the idea. But this is pretty much par for the course.

Let’s not forget Huntsman has been bashing Republicans for years about their lack of interest in climate change and ideas like cap-and-trade. Politico quoted Huntsman in 2009: “We would not need the Western Climate Initiative if it were not for the foot-dragging nature of Congress. . . If Republicans had identified this problem earlier and tackled it aggressively, we would all be working together.” He even cut an ad for the cap-and-trade crowd. And, of course, Huntsman adopted a cap-and-trade plan of his own, the Western Climate Initiative as the Utah press reported in 2007:

Governor Huntsman was joined by Governor Schwarzenegger as he signed the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative in the governor’s mansion today. It’s an agreement that calls for a regional goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from six states and British Columbia. The two chatted briefly in a room named after President, and renowned conservationist, Teddy Roosevelt . . .The pact calls for a cap to greenhouse gas emissions, a trade program where emission credits could be sold, and a registry to track emissions. Huntsman says he was intrigued by the idea of the pact when Governor Schwarzenegger first described it at a National Governors Association meeting in February.

The pact declares that western states are feeling the “effects of a hotter, drier climate with prolonged droughts and excessive heat waves, reduced snow packs and spring runoffs and altered precipitation patterns and more severe wildfires.”

But Huntsman says now that he’s not in favor of cap-and-trade, right? Not quite. All he has said is that in bad economic times cap-and-trade isn’t a good idea. He’s got no regrets about backing it in the past. So when the economy recovers it’s still fair game?

There are many reasons Huntsman isn’t zooming into contention. A GOP operative says dismissively, “If Republicans took Huntsman seriously enough to scrutinize his positions, his previous support for cap -and-trade would be the least of his problems. Lucky for Huntsman he’s got his own money and an adoring press corps to help him keep up the charade.” Nevertheless, his stance on this issue certainly does highlight the degree to which he is out of step with the conservative electorate.