September 6, 2005
Science Becomes Just Another Tool in the Radical Partisan Agenda of the Bush Administration, According to Journalist Chris Mooney
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW
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Chris Mooney is a former editor of The American Prospect. He has also written for Mother Jones, Wired, the Boston Globe and Slate. He specializes in the relationship between politics and religion. His 328-page book was released this fall.
BuzzFlash: Your book is called The Republican War on Science. We wanted to first explore the word "war." That's a pretty big word. Obviously we have the war in Iraq. There's a book over 300 pages. Some Administrations adopt some policies that might be adverse to science. You call this a war in terms of the Republicans and the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress. Why did you use that word?
Chris Mooney: Obviously I'm using a metaphor to describe what is essentially a comprehensive assault on scientific expertise. I don't mean a literal war, but I'm referring to the fact that scientific expertise has been undermined very systematically by the Bush Administration and by the Republican Congress on issues ranging from evolution to global climate change to embryonic stem cell research. I think that it's appropriate to talk about this comprehensive assault, using that kind of figurative language.
BuzzFlash: Okay, from a political perspective, it seems to BuzzFlash that there are two main motivations -- not the only ones -- for the Bush Administration/Republican Congress' war on science. One, it benefits the companies that donate to the Republican Party, particularly companies using natural resources, to make claims that aren't true about scientific evidence, whether it be global warming or cutting down trees and so forth. And two, it benefits the Bush Administration/Republican Party politically -- at least they believe so -- by reinforcing the religious convictions of the most fundamentalist base that science is, in essence, a modern-day attack on creationism, or, in the latest euphemistic transformation, on intelligent design.
Chris Mooney: Exactly.
BuzzFlash: Are those the two basic motivations for their war on science?
Chris Mooney: Yes. I mean, you've essentially articulated what I would say is possibly the central argument of my book. And I think that actually although there's been a lot of complaining about the politicization of science during the Bush Administration, this explanation about the two constituencies that you've discussed has really not been adequately expressed by the scientists complaining, because I think that they're hesitant to get into the realm of political analysis. But it is the gist that I feel.
The modern conservative movement, which now dominates the Republican Party, has a lot of key constituencies, but among those are the two that you just mentioned -- religious conservatives and regulated industry. And they want very different things, but their desires frequently stray into scientific areas. So the religious conservatives want to challenge evolution. Many fossil fuel interests want to challenge anybody who's suggesting advantages of reducing global warming. And when you cater to these constituencies, as the Republican Party and the Bush Administration have done, that essentially leads politicians and political appointees to conduct pseudo-scientific lobbying. And that doesn't mean that no other advocacy groups and no other interests ever politicize science. Science is always to some extent politicized. But it does mean that in today's Republican Party, what we essentially have is a perfect storm of science politicization and abuse.
And that's especially the case because there's no check on the Administration's abuses of science from Congress, because the Republican Party controls Congress as well. And a lot of people are very concerned about what's been happening to science in the federal agencies, where the oversight role should be played by Congress. There is clearly a huge threat to the integrity of scientific information coming from the EPA or NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]. You'd think that Congress would investigate and that some heads would roll, but that hasn't happened.
That is the big picture, very central to it. I think that there are a lot of other things going on as well, and I'd have to talk about that if you want. But that is very, very essential.
BuzzFlash: Let me ask you about what is -- to us, a central hypocrisy in this issue -- what is science in terms of the Bush Administration? Bush has repeatedly used a kind of PR gambit to defer any criticism, for instance, of this Administration not supporting the Kyoto Agreement and many other issues by saying he was going to wait until the science comes in -- this is sort of paraphrasing him -- implying that the science hasn't come in. What the heck is he talking about? I mean, what science is he talking about? Until they fudge the numbers?
Chris Mooney: He's essentially employing a tried-and-true tactic that's used constantly in the political abuse of science, which is the exaggeration of scientific uncertainty. And essentially, science never provides absolutely certain knowledge about the world. Scientific knowledge is, by its very nature, tentative. We can always imagine a new study reaching a different conclusion. And sometimes new studies raise more questions than they answer.
So unlike, faith-based knowledge, scientific knowledge is, by its nature, tentative. So there are always things we don't know completely. And what happens with something like global warming is that you find the so-called skeptics or the President trying to single out the things that aren't known and make a big fuss about them. And admittedly there are some things that aren't known. But what's an abuse of science about doing this is that they refuse to acknowledge what scientists are very confident in, which, in the case of global warming, is that humans are causing global average temperatures to rise, now, through their greenhouse gas emissions.
There's still some uncertainty about precisely what role is being played by natural causes as opposed to human ones. I mean, I don't think anyone can exactly quantify that. But you can't explain the trends we're seeing without invoking human causes. So it's magnifying and exaggerating uncertainty, and it's a tried-and-true tactic that's been used especially on the industry side.
BuzzFlash: Bush and his administration, however, do claim "science is on their side" when it is used to buttress their ideological agenda -- for instance, in abstinence-only education. He and his administration will claim science shows that abstinence reduces sexually transmitted diseases and so forth, when there are studies that say quite the opposite. So he just sort of asserts that some half-baked studies are accepted science, while repudiating accepted science when it conflicts with a partisan agenda.
They claim scientific evidence, whether it's right or wrong, when they feel it can advance their cause. And they use that uncertainty loophole that you just described whenever they're opposed to something.
Chris Mooney: Yes. You know the greatest example here is that Scientific American pointed this out in an editorial -- it's not an original observation to me. But they talked about how Bush wants to talk about uncertainty on global warming, where the scientific community is pretty clear that humans are driving the problem. But he wants to ignore uncertainty when it comes to the question of whether a missile defense system will work. And the uncertainty in terms of whether this thing is going to work or how we can make it work is massive. And yet that doesn't seem to be a problem for him.
BuzzFlash: Yes, and no tests thus far have indicated it has any promise of working. He doesn't say, well, let's wait and see the science before we deploy it. He's deploying it -- and billions and billions and billions of our taxpayer dollars are being spent on it -- when initial tests have shown it doesn't work. There's nothing scientifically to say it will work at this point.
Chris Mooney: Right. And here uncertainty is being ignored, where in other cases uncertainty is being magnified. When you get right down to it; it's a political tactic that essentially amounts to "spin" applied to science.
BuzzFlash: Why don't we take one of what is certainly one of the most politically hot-potato issues that we at BuzzFlash think Bush is on the wrong side of politically -- and polls would support us -- which is the stem-cell issue, although the pundits say he's doing this to keep his fundamentalist base fed with raw meat.
Bush took what people thought was sort of a mealy-mouthed, middle-ground issue that sort of kept him on the side of the fundamentalists, with only the most fringe of the fringe fanatics being critical of him in public. But generally the fundamentalists gave him a pass on his allowance of this use of existing lines, which turned out to be far fewer than he held out to be. But the public, on this one, is overwhelmingly for stem-cell research, largely because everyone knows someone who could conceivably benefit from it. And no doubt, that's why Frist changed his position -- because you had 80% of the polls indicating people in support of it. But here's an example of Bush trying to appease the religious camps, one of his two camps in the war on science, but in this case, on an issue that is of importance to voters. What's going on with this one?
Chris Mooney: He's hurting himself if he wants to be a mainstream president who doesn't thwart the mainstream political perspective. But I'm not sure Bush really realized how this issue would come around and bite him when he made that decision that he made in August of 2001. I'm not so sure that he knew that he was taking a stance that would essentially bind him, with a lot of Republicans aligned against him; Nancy Reagan, for instance. I'm not sure that he viewed the issue as cutting that way.
I think that he made a decision based on very dubious information. He may have actually thought that he was giving scientists enough cell lines to work with. Unfortunately, if he thought that, that means that he was relying on information that wasn't at all reliable, and that he really should have vetted much more carefully. You know, I think that it's essentially outrageous that the President went and told the country that there would be more than sixty stem-cell lines, when, in fact, this is all based on a big confusion. Someone didn't understand the distinction between a stem cell derivation, which won't necessarily develop into a line, and an actual line that can be used in research.
I think the big picture is that the war on science that I've described is often a holding action, where it's going to lose eventually, as tobacco lost eventually, for example -- you know, denying the health risks of smoking. The facts were going to come out. And with global warming, you know, the real world impacts are going to be so significant that eventually reality will prevail. And -- but what distorting scientific information does -- or suppressing it -- what it does is it creates a massive amount of delay. And it also often means that the problem is actually going to be a lot worse when we actually get around to dealing with it finally.
BuzzFlash: There actually are several political issues where Bush has got what you would call a secular motivation for appeasing his big-business contributors and a religious motivation for appeasing his true-believer base. And those two run hand in hand. They ran hand in hand in the Iraq War, and they run hand in hand in the war on science. But fundamentally they're not necessarily compatible. And I just want to explore this potential conflict a little bit with the stem-cell research.
One of the ironies here in the byproducts of his basically anti-stem cell research position is that other countries, including Canada and England right now, are going to make high-tech advances in stem-cell research, and the U.S. is going to lose some of its cutting edge in the medical and research area.
Chris Mooney: We already have.
BuzzFlash: And so even though Bush's pro-business side is basically the Texas oil, natural resource side, he's undercutting America's competitiveness in the high-tech medical arena.
Chris Mooney: Absolutely. No doubt about it.
BuzzFlash: So the appeasement to the religious side is kind of undercutting the American business entrepreneurial side.
Chris Mooney: Right. And the thing that's difficult to parse here a little bit is, you know, how much is biotech a Republican constituency? As opposed to we know that the major extractive industries that you talked about are aligned with Republicans. The people wanting to do stem cell research are not quite as easy to pin down politically, because they're constantly dealing with opposition from religious conservatives. So I guess that maybe that the industry allegiance isn't quite as strong here.
BuzzFlash: Let me move on to another issue, this whole issue of what is pro-life is fascinating. You have this tremendous quote-unquote pro-life constituency that's associated with the case of Terry Schiavo or anti-choice in the abortion issue. From my contacts with people who are Republicans and support Bush in general, but also support stem research, I've learned that many Republicans who are not holy rollers see stem cell research as a pro-life issue. And so what is defined as pro-life is self-defined by the far Christian right. But it isn't always in reality pro-life because if my uncle has Parkinson's, or my daughter has some neuro-muscular disorder, or I know someone with diabetes, I consider stem-cell research pro-life.
Chris Mooney: Absolutely.
BuzzFlash: And so the pro-lifers, who are self-proclaimed to oppose stem cell research are considered anti-life by those who consider stem-cell research pro-life.
Chris Mooney: Right. But we shouldn't yield the rhetorical phrase "pro-life" to them, is essentially what it comes down to.
BuzzFlash: Here's a question for you -- and again it's on the religious side of the two basic groups that are the supporters of the Republican war on science. We've browsed through a book that was released a couple of years ago that we felt, in a very dense academic way, successfully refuted the whole notion of intelligent design as just a kind of euphemistic way to disguise creationism. And that intelligent design was incompatible with science -- that Bush PR people are trying to have him promote that as a way of saying, well, you can believe in both science and creationism. But you can't.
You can believe there's a divine force and still believe in science. But you can't believe in creationism, and deny evolution and scientific theory, and say there's intelligent design which embraces science. So if we look at the religious side, I mean, science is sort of an unwelcome visitor to the creationists.
Chris Mooney: Right. Well, it's really interesting here, because the creationists are in a huge battle against the scientific establishment. And yet over the history of creationism in America, they've at the same time, somewhat incredibly, claimed to be engaged in scientific activity. It's extraordinary when you think about it -- that they quote "evolved" creation science to ease their way into the courtrooms. And creation science is essentially claiming that you could find scientific justification for, you know, the Flood having created geological structures and stuff like that. That didn't fly.
And now they've, you know, morphed this into intelligent design. And intelligent design is also purportedly scientific. Of course you know that really the people pushing it are on the Christian right. And you know that the scientific community doesn't accept it and doesn't even think that it could possibly fall within the realm of science because it's inherently supernatural, and science cannot study or test supernatural occurrences because they don't obey natural laws. And that basically leaves science unable to say anything about them. And yet, they again -- they claim that they've got a scientific theory. I think that science is so powerful in the American life that they feel like they have to at least kowtow to it, and not deny science outright, but rather to abuse it.
BuzzFlash: Bush agencies and departments have been accused of two primary techniques in regards to abusing science -- one, withholding scientific evidence that might be counter to Bush Administration decisions. Or two, doing as they did with the Iraq War, prior to it, which is doctoring up data to support their decisions and claiming it's science. Are those the two basic sort of tools the Bush administration employs?
Chris Mooney: Yes. I mean, those are certainly two important techniques. But I think that in the book, I actually in some detail describe a number of different -- not necessarily mutually exclusive -- ways of attacking science. And, it really runs the gamut, from philosophical arguments saying that, you know, you can include supernatural causes within scientific explanations -- undermining science on a philosophical level -- to suppressing documents, doctoring reports, launching nasty personal attacks on individual scientists if you don't like what they're doing -- that's another one that pops up fairly frequently.
BuzzFlash: And the ad hominem approach is very consistent with what they do to any critics of the Administration in general.
Chris Mooney: Yes. There are a lot of scientists that basically get smeared. That happens very frequently. It's very troubling. You know, and then you have basic errors, misrepresentation of fact -- basically spinning information. And you also have sort of things like even when they're trying to pass laws sometimes that are going to rig the process for how science gets used inside the government.
You have things like the Data Quality Act -- you know, that Orwellian name -- Data Quality Act. You have the Endangered Species Data Quality Act. And these are ways of changing the process so that it's much more easy to abuse science to slow down government action. So there actually are some others -- some other tactics as well. It's hard to limit it to just one tactic. It's an opportunistic use of basically anything that will work.
BuzzFlash: So as -- and this is my analogy, or BuzzFlash's -- as with the War in Iraq -- prior to the war, the propaganda war is multi-faceted.
Chris Mooney: Absolutely.
BuzzFlash: And so this war on science is multi-faceted. It takes many forms. Now with Iraq -- and again, I'm drawing the analogy.
Chris Mooney: Good analogy.
BuzzFlash: A BuzzFlashian analogy. And there was that infamous quotation in the New York Times article from a non-Administration source that said we're not into reality, we're into changing reality.
Chris Mooney: I quote that one in the book.
BuzzFlash: And I guess my question is, well, as with the Iraq war, and science, it seems in both cases they start with certain conclusions and then go backwards and say find me the data to support the conclusions.
Chris Mooney: Possibly.
BuzzFlash: Whereas science looks at data and comes to conclusions.
Chris Mooney: That's how the scientific process is supposed to work. You know, in the book, actually at the opening -- if I could just read this to you.
Chris Mooney: It's a quotation from Stephen Pinker that he gave me in an interview, and I used it as a kind of opening quote. And he said that "The success of science depends on an apparatus of democratic adjudication: anonymous peer review, open debate -- the fact that a graduate student can criticize a tenured professor. These mechanisms are more or less explicitly designed to counter human self-deception. People always think they're right, and powerful people will tend to use their authority to bolster their prestige and suppress inconvenient opposition. You try to set up the game of science so that truth will out despite this ugly side of human nature." And I think that that's a really great quote. And what's going on here is that people are starting with the answers and essentially they're letting their preconceptions blind them. And not only that, but they're doctoring scientific information to try to justify those preconceptions, instead of approaching it openly and rigorously, and checking results, and engaging in true inquiry.
BuzzFlash: Now we're the country of Doctor Salk, who came up with the polio vaccine.
Chris Mooney: We have a distinguished history.
BuzzFlash: We have a distinguished history. Whether one likes it or not, we came up with scientific breakthroughs. And we were natural leaders in science. We basically have an administration and a fringe Republican party that, at this point, sees science as a threat to their world view, which is kind of rerouting the history of the United States in terms of its achievements in the science arena, which impact its achievements in the marketplace.
Chris Mooney: Sure. You know, certainly, the history of the United States in the 20th Century is one in which the government supported scientific research for the benefit -- both for military purposes, but also for the benefit of the larger society. And it really started with Roosevelt drawing upon the scientific community for these weapons to create the atomic bomb ultimately during the war.
But then, after the war, eventually the tradition continued of science being funded by government. And there was this great marriage between political leaders and the scientific community. And the scientists were going to serve the nation with their innovations. And of course, when the Soviets launched Sputnik, this became even more significant. And Eisenhower, a Republican president but a moderate, brought the scientific community into the White House and created the President's Science Advisory Committee, created his own science advisor, and said, we're falling behind -- what can you guys do to help, you know? That was the ethos of the time, and it's really unfortunate that we've lost that.
BuzzFlash: So, I mean, in essence -- what one could argue -- that the Bush Administration, in its emphasis on the religious fringe which represents that the United States is part of a divine order, and God is the king of the United States, that this is the Ashcroft-Ralph Reed-Falwell-Robinson perspective -- and perhaps George Bush perspective -- you know, that God is the king of America. And so therefore, we live in a divinely protected nation, and everything comes from the divine -- comes from the Bible -- is an argument, in essence, for the status quo - for not being the dynamic force the United States has been in moving forward based on scientific knowledge that has led to industrial gains. The whole space program, as you've said beginning with Eisenhower, led to incalculable advancements in the economic and industrial arena in the United States.
Chris Mooney: And it was really Eisenhower and Kennedy, right? I mean, there was a consensus of both parties. That was what was so cool. Eisenhower was the President when we had to deal with Sputnik, of course, but the Apollo space program was launched under Kennedy. So it was a seamless continuity.
BuzzFlash: I guess my question to you is this cannot be helpful to the economy, I guess. Is that right?
Chris Mooney: Well, to be fair, it's really hard to quantify what the damage is going to be. It's clear that we're falling behind in a very cutting-edge field of bio-technology --which is, you know, stem cell research and also the therapeutic cloning field. It's clear that other countries are ahead of us, at least in that area. That can't be good. What are the economic impacts of spreading massive misinformation and failing to educate kids about the foundational bedrock of biology, the theory of evolution? I'm not so sure what the impacts are there. I'm sure that they're quite damaging over the long term. It's not a pretty picture.
BuzzFlash: Well, let's move over to the second part of the constituency that Bush is appeasing in the Republican war on science, and that is the Southern natural resource oligarchy, meaning oil, gas, lumber, coal and so forth, which Michael Lind, the author, says basically is a descendant of the Confederacy, that whereas New England was involved in the mid-1800s with the emergence of the industrial era, the South was using slave labor and living off of basically a stagnant economy that relied on cotton and natural resources -- oil in Texas later in the century and so forth. Basically the Cheney wing and their emphasis on economic gain as we've said in the energy bill is not science and research advancement, and moving forward to try to deal with when our natural resources are depleted, but it's toward increased license to plunder our natural resources, which may be where there may be divinely-inspired people, because the thinking there, perhaps, as some have said, is, well, God gave us this -- these natural resources. It's our right to use them.
Chris Mooney: Right.
BuzzFlash: But what does that do to our economy? Because it seems the energy bill is basically a bill that increases the ability of the natural resource oligarchy of companies to plunder our natural resources until they're exhausted, without looking beyond that station.
Chris Mooney: Right. Well, you know, with the energy bill, it's not necessarily misusing science. Instead, it's unfortunately making very short-sighted decisions.
BuzzFlash: Well, it's not taking advantage of what science can do to come up with alternative energy resources.
Chris Mooney: Right.
BuzzFlash: -- and investing in science. I mean, it avoids any -- I mean, with the exception of some minor funds, when you look at the multi-billion-dollar energy bill, it doesn't really give science a shot in the arm to look at alternative energy resources.
Chris Mooney: Right. And from an economic standpoint, it all kind of baffles me because, something like global warming is also going to have huge economic costs? And we don't even have that on the table. I mean, I don't think that we're thinking really in a sound way about it at all.
BuzzFlash: But let's just say hypothetically we take Bush at his word that he is a religious person, and he believes in the divine order, and God chose him to be leader and so forth, and all that holy roller stuff, which let's just hypothetically say he believes it. We have our doubts, but let's say he does. Then to him, the issue of science is sort of irrelevant because God is the provider and science really doesn't matter because God takes care of us.
Chris Mooney: You know, sometimes it's hard to tell when cynicism ends and true faith begins. But the net impact is the same, which is that science, which is key to our future, is being undermined and a political wedge is between driven between the scientific community and the Republican Party, which is certainly not going to be good for the country, science or the Republican Party in the long run.
BuzzFlash: Well, as you mentioned, they use kind of Orwellian euphemisms -- and they do this in every area, not just science -- like they call plunder the forest act save the forest act, you know, and things like this. I mean, how aware is the public of the Republican war on science? Short of your book, really there's not a lot of coverage on it. There are the occasional articles where people protest the EPA has misrepresented a scientific report, or they fix numbers. But you don't see really a lot of coverage of this issue in a contextual sense, or like your book does, as a war -- as an overall assault on science.
Chris Mooney: Well, I'm hoping that will change. You know, I don't know how much impact my one book can have. I think that it's an uphill battle to make the public understand it. And let me put it this way -- I think that there's a full-fledged crisis right now over the role of scientific information in shaping public policy decisions in this country. And I think that that's a terrible state to be in. I think that we need science to inform our decisions. I don't think the public at large really knows this, and I think that's because the crisis of the war on science is often -- it's often hidden and obscured by the complexity of the government regulatory process. People don't know what's going on at these advisory committees.
Scientific debate is also extremely complex and hard to penetrate for many people. So what you have to do is first, you try to give the big picture, but you also have to explain why it threatens all of us. And there, obviously it threatens our public health and the environment. And even more, it threatens the way we treat knowledge itself in American society. It threatens our competitiveness. So we need to articulate how the sort of complex attacks on science, which are sometimes hard to follow and hard to understand, actually translate into harms to the public.
BuzzFlash: And it just seems that the Bush Administration's approach is so contrary to America's tradition of innovation that you'd think there'd be an uprising. But somehow this is almost like carbon monoxide. The public can't seem to smell it.
Chris Mooney: Kerry made science an issue in his campaign. It wasn't his number-one issue, but it was there. He talked about it. He said I want to be a President who believes in science. And that was a clear reference to the perception that the Bush Administration has been attacking science. It's really gotten worse since the election. But, when Kerry made that argument, his campaign did focus on the role of scientific advancement in economic growth, competitively. And that was an argument -- it's an obvious argument, you know? And they made that point. And I think we have to keep making that point.
BuzzFlash: Now you mentioned, before we close, that you had some other thoughts about the war that you wanted to mention that are in your book.
Chris Mooney: You and I went over what we agree are the key constituencies that are driving what's happened. What I would add is just that I don't think those constituencies necessarily provide the full explanation of why it's gotten so bad. I think that we need to cite some other things that have also happened. So I think one of the key enabling factors behind the current war on science is that the right -- both the industry and the religious right constituencies -- have worked really hard to generate their own friendly sources of science -- the expertise that they can use to contrast the mainstream. And then politicians get to cite the favorite right wing experts. So they get to hand-pick their scientific arguments and make it easier to ignore what's actually the consensus. So the right has created its own sort of shadow scientific community.
And how it's done -- one of the central developments is the push to create industry-friendly or religious-friendly -- or both -- think tanks that essentially provide the right with its own expertise. So then they can argue back against the scientific community. And this has been a very conscious effort on the right to do this. It can be traced back at least to the seventies when people like Irving Kristol explicitly advised corporations to fund their own think tanks and other outlets that would essentially reconfirm a pro-business economic philosophy. So -- and it's not just on the corporate side, because the war on evolution right now is being waged by the Discovery Institute, which is a think tank in Seattle which is a religious conservative think tank and also kind of has a free-market orientation. So I think that the right wouldn't be able to get as far if it didn't generate its own experts. So they're politicizing the concept of expertise, and they're drawing upon that. And they've created their army of think tanks. And I think that that's a crucial factor.
BuzzFlash: I think they're anti-free market because they're suppressing the free market because they're suppressing science. And you can only have a free market if you have unfettered access to scientific advancements and research. And so, in a way, they are for a limited market that's really reactionary in the true sense of the word. It's a market of the past and not of the future, because science is what creates the future in terms of the marketplace.
Therefore, a controlled market of industries are industries that eventually will exhaust themselves, which is what happened with the European colonial empires. You know, at one time, England pretty much had a monopoly on tea. But that only gets you so far.
And one final thing. I recall that in the beginning of the Bush Administration, Tom DeLay had a kind of power over Congress. But there's a Washington Post profile of DeLay from about four years ago that was in two or three parts. And it was an extremely revealing profile. It was not flattering, I guess one could say. But among the many disclosures -- and there were many personal disclosures that were kind of a bit shocking -- but this reporter was with DeLay when he went to some restaurant in his home town of Sugarland.
DeLay was standing in line in a restaurant. And I guess the guy behind him recognized him and sort of engaged him about toxic chemicals and science and so forth. And the man brought up to DeLay that he differed with DeLay because of things he read. DeLay said basically there's nothing wrong with dioxin and it's basically good for you. And I just kind of wonder what your thoughts are about that kind of thinking. I mean, what is going on in Tom DeLay's head? I mean, this is such a complete dismissal of science and evidence. That all chemicals are good and anyone who says otherwise is just some sort of radical kook?
Chris Mooney: No, I don't know what's going on in Tom DeLay's head, but Tom DeLay does epitomize the war on science. I mean, I've got him in the book on issues -- I've got him denying evolution in the book. But I've also got him denying depletion of the ozone layer. So it was during the Gingrich years -- the early Gingrich years -- he was behind the bill to -- I forget exactly what it was, but it was essentially going to roll back the phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons, I think, because they were doubting that they really depleted the ozone layer. And this is in the same year that the scientist who discovered that won the Nobel Prize. So DeLay is just out of it. Again, he's blending the industry side with the religious right side.
BuzzFlash: He claims to be a true-blue, born again believer, a fundamentalist to the core. And there you have that merger of the depletable resource, oligarchy that supports Bush with the divine fringe right wing. He sort of epitomizes where they come together.
Chris Mooney: I agree.
A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW
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