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Cheney: Neither Here Nor There?

A " fact sheet" prepared by the committee describes other instances in which the vice president's office has sought to avoid oversight and accountability. Those efforts include challenging the right of the Government Accountability Office to examine the activities of the Cheney's energy task force and refusing to disclose basic facts about the operations of his office, such as the identity of his staffers and the individuals who visit his residence.

Cheney vs. Global Warming

Tim Dickinson writes in Rolling Stone: "It is no secret that industry-connected appointees within the White House have worked actively to distort the findings of federal climate scientists, playing down the threat of climate change. But a new investigation by Rolling Stone reveals that those distortions were sanctioned at the highest levels of our government, in a policy formulated by the vice president, implemented by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and enforced by none other than Karl Rove. An examination of thousands of pages of internal documents that the White House has been forced to relinquish under the Freedom of Information Act -- as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former administration scientists and climate-policy officials -- confirms that the White House has implemented an industry-formulated disinformation campaign designed to actively mislead the American public on global warming and to forestall limits on climate polluters.

"'They've got a political clientele that does not want to be regulated,' says Rick Piltz, a former Bush climate official who blew the whistle on White House censorship of global-warming documents in 2005. 'Any honest discussion of the science would stimulate public pressure for a stronger policy. They're not stupid.'

"Bush's do-nothing policy on global warming began almost as soon as he took office. By pursuing a carefully orchestrated policy of delay, the White House has blocked even the most modest reforms and replaced them with token investments in futuristic solutions like hydrogen cars. 'It's a charade,' says Jeremy Symons, who represented the EPA on Cheney's energy task force, the industry-studded group that met in secret to craft the administration's energy policy. 'They have a single-minded determination to do nothing -- while making it look like they are doing something.' . . .

"The CEQ became Cheney's shadow EPA, with industry calling the shots. To head up the council, Cheney installed James Connaughton, a former lobbyist for industrial polluters, who once worked to help General Electric and ARCO skirt responsibility for their Superfund waste sites.

"Industry swiftly took advantage of its new friend in the White House. In a fax sent to the CEQ on February 6th, 2001 - two weeks after Bush took office - ExxonMobil's top lobbyist, Randy Randol, demanded a housecleaning of the scientists in charge of studying global warming. . . .

"Exxon's wish was the CEQ's command. According to an internal e-mail obtained by Rolling Stone, Connaughton's first order of business -- even before his nomination was made public -- was to write his White House colleagues-to-be from his law firm of Sidley and Austin. He echoed Exxon's call that [Rosina] Bierbaum, the acting director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, be 'dealt.' In the end, each of the scientists on Exxon's hit list was replaced."

Fascinating story. A request to Rolling Stone: How about putting those e-mails and documents online?

The End Times

Edward Luce and Andrew Ward write in the Financial Times: "When asked whether he was quitting the Bush administration because it would be good for his political future, Rob Portman, the outgoing budget director, replied: 'It would be good for my mental health.' Although Mr Portman was joking, a growing list of officials have already acted on that impulse.

"At least 20 senior aides have left important posts in the White House, Pentagon or State Department over the past six months, as chaos has deepened in Iraq. 'There's a real sense of fatigue and very little sense of purpose,' said a senior official, who asked not to be named. 'My guess is you're going to see a lot more departures.'

"Mr Portman, who had been Mr Bush's budget director for little more than a year, could hardly have quit at a less convenient time for the administration. His resignation was particularly symbolic because he had taken the job as part of last year's White House shake-up designed to breathe fresh life into Mr Bush's second-term policy agenda."

Luce and Ward write that the administration's efforts have been lackluster in the second term. "It has spent much of its dwindling political capital lobbying for an immigration bill that may never reach the statute books.

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