- The Washington Times - Monday, February 20, 2006

Hot flashes

Some environmentalists are distressed to learn that President Bush met last year with a famous novelist who is skeptical about global warming, the New York Times reports.

The novelist, Michael Crichton, wrote “State of Fear,” a 2004 book that suggested that global warming is an unproven theory and overstated threat.

The visit was not made public because the White House did not want to further antagonize environmentalists, says Fred Barnes in his new book “Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush.”

Mr. Barnes writes that the president “avidly read” the novel and met the author after Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, arranged it. He says Mr. Bush and his guest “talked for an hour and were in near total agreement.”

“This shows the president is more interested in science fiction than science,” Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, told New York Times reporter Michael Janofsky.

“This administration has put no limit on global-warming pollution and has consistently rebuffed any suggestion to do so,” he said.

However, the White House said Mr. Barnes’ book left a false impression of Mr. Bush’s views on global warming.

Michele St. Martin, a spokeswoman for the Council on Environmental Quality, a White House advisory agency, pointed to several speeches in which Mr. Bush had acknowledged the impact of global warming and the need to confront it, even if he questioned the degree to which humans contribute to it.

Call it a 10

“Have you ever noticed how on a scale of one to 10, every untoward event in the life of the Bush presidency goes straight to a 10?” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“The Abu Ghraib photos? A 10 forever. Dick Cheney catching a hunting buddy with some birdshot? An instant 10. The Bush National Guard story? Total 10. How can it be that each downside event in this presidency greets the public at this one, screeching level of outrage and denunciation by the out-of-power party and a perpetually outraged media?” Mr. Henninger asks.

“There was a time when what’s been called news judgment would deem some stories a five or six and run them on page 14, or deeper in the newscast. Back then the Senate minority leader wouldn’t bother to look up from his desk. Not with this presidency. Every downside event — large, small, in between — plays above the fold on the front page now. And when Dick Cheney accidentally pops Harry Whittington, old Harry Reid jumps up from his Senate leader’s desk faster than a Nevada jack rabbit to announce, one more time, that this ‘is part of the secretive nature of this administration.’

“Here are some of the political and media bonfires that have been lit on the White House lawn, stoked and reignited the past five years: the ‘stolen’ 2000 election, Halliburton, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ Cheney lives in an ‘undisclosed location,’ Abu Ghraib, torture at Guantanamo, Bush lied about WMD, secret CIA prison sites, Valerie Plame, the neocons, Rumsfeld, Cheney’s ‘secret’ energy task force, Cindy Sheehan, Bush is destroying Social Security, Hurricane Katrina, Jack Abramoff, illegal wiretaps, Bill Frist’s stock sales, what else?

“Admittedly, it’s a partial list. This [past] week alone wasn’t half over before it had already dumped onto the public first the Cheney shooting scandal and then that George Bush made Katrina worse. This morning’s papers may have more bad news.

“If it all seems more than a little tiresome, if you wish it would all just go away, well, maybe that’s the point — their point. Induce swing voters to seek respite from the Bush experience.”

L.A. blowhard

“I love L.A., and so am constantly pained when our local media pundits embarrass the entire city with their lamebrained thoughts and crass mistakes,” Catherine Seipp writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The star attraction this [past] week is the always-reliable Lawrence O’Donnell — self-congratulatory L.A. public-school dad, screaming MSNBC talking head, and executive producer of the recently cancelled ‘West Wing.’

“A few days ago, O’Donnell suggested on the Huffington Post that Dick Cheney must have been drunk during that hunting accident. Because, as the supernaturally insightful O’Donnell explained the next day to Hugh Hewitt on the radio, even though he wasn’t actually there, and in fact has never been hunting in Texas, or drunk, or even ever had a beer at lunch, he somehow has reason to believe that the vice president was drunk last weekend.

“Why? Because Cheney is ‘an ultra-rich Republican,’ and that’s what ultra-rich Republicans do at Ivy League football games — the kind of ultra-rich Democrat O’Donnell has witnessed firsthand, because he went to Harvard. Ergo, these guys must also drink while hunting quail. It just stands to reason!

“Besides that, O’Donnell explained to Hewitt, he talked to ‘a bunch of lawyers,’ as well as one alcoholic, who thought Cheney had to have been drunk. Who these lawyers were, exactly, O’Donnell declined to say. But ‘listen, Hugh, my entire family are lawyers. Every one of them, OK?’

“O’Donnell didn’t say how many of his family members are also alcoholics, but you’re just going to have to take his word for it: No one knows better what really happens during quail-hunting accidents than a drunk attorney.”

Racist remarks

Media Research Center President L. Brent Bozell III has condemned Bryant Gumbel for racist remarks on the HBO program “Real Sports.”

Mr. Gumbel, the show’s host, said he does not like the Winter Olympic games and suggested viewers “try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention.”

“Gumbel’s remarks reek of racism and arrogance,” Mr. Bozell said. “That’s racial bean-counting. It’s also morally skewed because it says that to be among the greatest athletes you have to be black.”

Imperiling troops

“Marine Corps Commandant Michael Hagee didn’t like recent New York Times stories detailing problems with the military’s body armor,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Hagee says the military asked the Times not to reveal the vulnerabilities but was ignored. ‘I don’t want snipers knowing where to shoot at our Marines,’ says Hagee.

“The Times says it ‘worked to strike a balance between reporting on vital information while not increasing the risk to troops.’”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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