There was a time not so long ago when being a "conservative" meant having political/economic values whose pedigree can be traced to the Tories of the British persuasion: a philosophy that tends to "reforming ills while conserving the good" (Wikipedia entry on "Tory (British political party)"). Here, the good refers to fiscal conservatism in public spending; and, "reforming ills" by way of policy and legislation that emphasize economic rationalization as the main determinant in levels of regulation. Or something to that effect...
This political philosophy is not aversed to, and relies upon, non-partisan evidence, whether scientific, administrative, statistical, financial, historical, etc. while appealing to above economic and political principles.
The new "conservative" movement, which is seen as really a global phenomenon, which has asserted itself in anything and everything but name of Toryism in the West and extreme religious "conservatism" in the East is a degeneration, even in the sense of social conservatism. Its "scepticism" is also rather something of a haphazard affair compared to its precedessors' form of conservatism. It seems that verification of facts (exegeses of the scriptures in religious fundamentalism) is less important than the parochial appeal to populist indulgence.
There was a prime minister of Canada who boasted that Canada has no history of imperialist colonialism; a presidential candidate in the US accepted a claim from a woman who said that the vaccine for human papillomavirus caused mental retardation in her daughter.
It boggles the mind.
The refined art of constructing political arguments for or against issues is lost in the policy discourse; what neo-conservatives do is goad, whine about and demonize their chosen foes while acting as if the few selected facts comprise all of their reality, usually non-negotiable even in the face of overwhelming facts they choose not recognize or acknowledge.
The PM's gaffe was largely attributable to a worldview that Canada is really the sole purview of the privileged elect who are above the "colonies" and the common people they govern and exploit by right. Awkward. But really just a betrayal in a lapse of guardedness, a Freudian slip.
But a tea party President of the US of Bachmann's calibre is down-right scary, a viceral reactionary intent on wholesale social and political (including geo-political) change with publicly-stated plans to repeal existing legislation and regulations to unilaterally set them more favorable towards one class/kind over others:
"The facts of global finance, trade and historical negotiated accords/treaties/understandings between nations and diverse groups be damned: civility be damned: knowledge of 'useless', inconveniently 'needful' things be damned: trust in our exceptionality; we know people; we're on the inside".