Wednesday's Washington Post features a story from Richmond by reporter Rosalind Helderman on how the state's Democrats are going to introducing a bill trying to curb the powers of conservative Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to subpoena public universities for information. Taxpayer-funded universities should be spared any public accountability? The topic here is controversial Climategate scientist Michael Mann, and his tendency to "hide the decline" in temperature records when it's politically convenient. But the Post suggests the conflict is between conservative and "academics," between politicians and "honest" researchers:
Cuccinelli's demand has pleased conservatives, who say that global warming is a hoax, but has outraged many academics, who say he is smearing an honest researcher because he does not approve of his findings.
Why can't liberals ever just be liberals? The Post lets left-wing radicals like the Union of Concerned Scientists pose merely as "academics." Let's recall what Brent Bozell noted was revealed in the Climategate e-mails: these global-warming scientist/activists are politicians just as much as Cuccinelli is:
It's also important to note that these folks play a rough game of hardball. This isn't about science. It's politics — the brass-knuckles sort. In another e-mail from [Phil] Jones to Mann, reported in The Washington Post, there's talk of cutting skeptical scientists out of the official United Nations report: "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report," Jones writes. "Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"
In another, Jones and Mann discuss how they can pressure an academic journal to reject the work of climate skeptics, perhaps with a boycott: "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal," Mann writes. "I will be emailing the journal to tell them I'm having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor," Jones replies.
The Post has editorialized very harshly against Cuccinelli investigating Mann's work while he was at the University of Virginia. They're not offended when scientists act like liberal politicians -- they certainly don't believe "objective journalists" should refrain from acting like politicians. Helderman noted these Democrat bills will go nowhere -- except to undermine Cuccinelli's appeal to "moderate voters" at the polls:
If the bills pass the Democratic-led Senate, they are unlikely to be approved by the House of Delegates, where the GOP holds a strong majority.
Still, they afford Democrats a forum for hammering the controversial attorney general over the U-Va. subpoena, which they consider an area of vulnerability with moderate voters.
Mann is an "honest researcher," and Cuccinelli is a "controversial attorney general." Before they assess the politics of environmentalism, perhaps the Post should go ask the working-class miners in southern Virginia which side of the global-warming debate is "moderate" and which is "controversial." But the Post finds it plausible for the Democrats claim Cuccinelli (and not power-hungry "climate change" bureaucrats) would offend Thomas Jefferson:
"Jefferson would be turning in his grave to see what was coming from Richmond because of Attorney General Cuccinelli's efforts to capture private correspondence within faculty and staff at the University of Virginia," said Del. David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville), who is co-sponsoring the bill and whose district includes the university, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson. "If people are concerned about government intrusion into your private life, you ought to be very concerned about what the attorney general is attempting to do in this case."