Thursday, November 2, 2006

Shut up, they said

Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and John D. Rockefeller IV, in a letter to the chairman of ExxonMobil Corp., demanded that the oil giant cease funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute and other global warming skeptics.

“In light of the adverse impacts still resulting from your corporation’s activities, we must request that ExxonMobil end any further financial assistance or other support to groups or individuals whose public advocacy has contributed to the small, but unfortunately effective, climate change denial myth,” the two senators said in a letter to Rex W. Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil. The letter was dated Friday.

The politicians accused the oil company of politicizing science.

“It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the ‘deniers,’ ” said Mrs. Snowe, Maine Republican, and Mr. Rockefeller, West Virginia Democrat.

Global warming popularizers often use the word “deniers” to suggest that climate change skeptics are akin to Holocaust deniers.

“We fervently hope that reports that ExxonMobil intends to end its funding of the climate change denial campaign of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) are true,” they said, complaining that skeptics often write at the Web site Tech Central Station ( rather than in scientific journals.

Team players

President Bush said yesterday he wants Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney to remain in his administration until the end of his presidency, extending a job guarantee to two of the most-criticized members of his team.

Mr. Bush, in an interview with the Associated Press, also said he was determined that sanctions imposed against North Korea must be applied even though Pyongyang has agreed to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.

And Mr. Bush said he did not foresee a change in the immediate future in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. He said that U.S. generals have assured him that “they’ve got what they can live with.”

Six days before midterm elections, Mr. Bush steered questions away from politics beyond saying he was confident that Republicans would defy the polls and hold control of the House and Senate.

“I understand that the pundits have got the race over, but I don’t believe it’s over until everybody votes,” the president said.

He refused to even say whether he could work effectively with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid if Democrats won either the House or Senate, or both.

Attack ads

“You might want to send your children from the room. Put the cat out while you’re at it. And draw the blinds, in case the neighbors are getting nosy. The time has come, as it must every campaign season, to discuss negative ads,” Andrew Ferguson writes at

“It is a subject sure to upset anyone with delicate sensibilities, a category that includes many members of the U.S. political community — especially reporters and commentators, who apparently sit by their computer terminals and reach for the beta blockers every time they force themselves to peep through parted fingers at each fresh outrage posted on the Drudge Report,” Mr. Ferguson said.

” ‘Negative Ads Rule the 2006 Elections,’ said Congressional Quarterly. This is ‘The Year of Playing Dirtier,’ announced The Washington Post. ‘The Election Campaign Is Talking Trash,’ said the Baltimore Sun.

“Even those cold-eyed realists at the New York Times have succumbed to an attack of the election-year vapors. ‘Theme of Campaign: Don’t Be Nice’ was the headline over a recent story about ‘the most toxic midterm campaign environment in memory.’

“How toxic? ‘It is,’ reported the Times, ‘a jarring blend of shadowy images, breathless announcers, jagged music and a dizzying array of statistics, counter-statistics and vote citations.’

“Statistics? Vote citations? Call me thick-headed, but I remain un-jarred. And I bet such outrages as ‘counter-statistics’ don’t jar most voters either.”


A Maine lawyer who released information in 2000 about President Bush’s drunken driving conviction was arrested on Tuesday after he dressed up as al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and waved a fake gun at traffic.

Police in South Portland, Maine, arrested Thomas Connolly, 49, of Scarborough, Maine, and charged him with criminal threatening. He was released on bail, local officials said.

Lt. Todd Bernard said the police department received calls about a man wearing Middle Eastern garb and a bin Laden mask and carrying fake dynamite standing along an interstate highway. When police arrived, they saw Mr. Connolly holding a gun.

“They ordered him to drop the weapon several times, and he eventually complied,” Mr. Bernard said.

It turned out the gun was fake, Mr. Bernard said.

In a phone interview with Reuters news agency, Mr. Connolly said he’d been trying to protest a planned change in local tax rules.

“I didn’t expect to be arrested,” he said. “Obviously I touched a post-9/11 nerve.”

Days before the 2000 presidential election, Mr. Connolly released information about Mr. Bush’s 1976 drunken-driving conviction.

Back in court

Attorneys for dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainees asked a federal appeals court yesterday to declare a key part of the new military trials law unconstitutional.

The detainees’ lawyers challenged the military’s authority to arrest people overseas and detain them indefinitely without allowing them to use the U.S. courts to contest their detention, the Associated Press reports.

President Bush and Congress gave the military that authority last month when the president signed a new law that sets up special commissions to hold trials for foreigners designated as “enemy combatants.” Mr. Bush hailed the law as a crucial tool in the war on terrorism and said it would allow prosecution of several high-level terror suspects. Congress barred the courts from intervening.

In written arguments, attorneys for more than 100 detainees asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to let the detainees keep their legal challenges going in civilian courts.

The framers of the Constitution never would have permitted the government to hold people indefinitely without charges, the lawyers wrote.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

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