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The White House Passes Gas

June 8, 2005

Today offers yet another chapter in the ongoing attempt by the Bush White House to sell its policy program through manufactured news and faux science.
The New York Times reports that a White House official, a former oil industry lobbyist, modified U.S. government climate reports in order to downplay the linkage between greenhouse gases and global warming:

Philip Cooney, chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, made changes to descriptions of climate research that had already been approved by government scientists and their supervisors, the newspaper said, citing internal documents.

The NYT piece shows the Cooney's actual handwritten notes on the documents obtained by the Government Accountability Project. These examples of his surgical strikes shows the naked cynicism of the Bush White House:

In one instance in an October 2002 draft of a regularly published summary of government climate research, "Our Changing Planet," Mr. Cooney amplified the sense of uncertainty by adding the word "extremely" to this sentence: "The attribution of the causes of biological and ecological changes to climate change or variability is extremely difficult."
In a section on the need for research into how warming might change water availability and flooding, he crossed out a paragraph describing the projected reduction of mountain glaciers and snowpack. His note in the margins explained that this was "straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings."

The White House for its part used cowardice as a strategy to deflect criticism of Cooney. White House spokesperson Michele St. Martin snipped, "We don't put Phil Cooney on the record. He's not a cleared spokesman."
Most Americans probably never thought they'd see a day when their President compared unfavorably to Joseph Stalin when it came to bogus science. Stalin's Lysenkoism, at least, was motivated by a pathological desire for national greatness and leapfrogging the West. In the Bush White House, fake science is just about accumulating power and rewarding its craven business interests.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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