Like most public policy analysts in Washington, Myron Ebell has strong opinions about sitting lawmakers. Unlike most, he jotted those opinions down in an e-mail and last week sent the message out to about 100 activists and lobbyists.
In the e-mail, the head of the climate group at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a District-based policy group that describes itself as "dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government," outlined a strategy for defeating a bill that that would curb carbon dioxide emissions.
Ebell listed "target" lawmakers that opponents of the bill could try to sway, offering descriptions of some of them.
On Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.): "Our leading internationalist wants to send even more manufacturing jobs in Indiana overseas so that important diplomats at UN receptions will be nice to him."
On Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.): He "hates Bush" and "is increasingly frail."
On Tim Johnson (D-S.D.): "We can't change his vote, but it's fun to see him squirm back home."
The bill was defeated in the Senate last fall but is expected to come up for another vote later this month. In the e-mail, Ebell lamented that "environmentalists are working this vote very hard and spending lots of money that our side doesn't have."
Spokesmen for Lugar, Byrd and Johnson said they had read the memo, which was reported by Scripps Howard News Service and is making its way across Capitol Hill. They expressed surprise that Ebell had distributed it.
"To insult many of the most senior members of the United States Senate certainly does not seem to be a smart way to do business," said Tom Gavin, a spokesman for Byrd.
Ebell played down the e-mail. "These are people who regularly call each other every name in the book," he said.
Asked if he would apologize for the remarks, he said: "If some senator called me up and said he was hurt by my comment, I would say, 'I apologize.' "