- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2007

We can count on one hand the number of major Washington think tanks that do not accept oil-money donations. Of course, you didn’t read that in last week’s stories on the American Enterprise Institute and global-warming research. No — last week’s stories were content to paint AEI as a corporate shill because it stands outside the alarmist global-warming consensus while also taking ExxonMobil money. Thus does AEI stand guilty of the apparent crime of conducting normal fund-raising. This is an obvious attempt to silence researchers who won’t march in step on the issue of global warming.

The follow-the-money game can be legitimate if the trail leads to some actual pay-for-play. In this case, it doesn’t.

The fact is that many major think tanks take oil money. For instance, there is the Brookings Institution, AEI’s center-left near-equivalent and a producer of excellent policy research that is often regarded as the top think tank in town. In 2005-06, Brookings accepted at least $100,000 in donations from ExxonMobil, the company singled out by British newspapers as they tarred AEI, as well as no less than $250,000 from the Embassy of Qatar and at least $50,000 from Chevron. But Brookings isn’t a center of skepticism against the emerging global-warming consensus. Ergo, no one questions its oil money. We would mention others, but there’s no point. Brookings is broadly in line on the issue and AEI isn’t; AEI gets accusations of bad faith.

Our question is: If AEI is so wrong to solicit a range of views on global warming, some or all of them outside the consensus, then why not just let AEI embarrass itself with its allegedly faulty research? The fact that the global-warming alarmists try to stamp out alternative views as opposed to addressing the arguments on the merits is itself suggestive.

This isn’t a new tactic. Global-warming alarmists have spent years trying to discredit the harder-edged Competitive Enterprise Institute over its funding sources. This is a way of trying to get people to shut up — it sidesteps the substantive policy issues.

Half a dozen major media outlets threw out their standards on this story, for no apparent reason except that AEI hasn’t buckled to alarmism on global warming. The climate-change debate deserves better than this.

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