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June 23, 2003, 6:50 P.M.

U.S. News & World Report recently published a column about frivolous lawsuits. Unfortunately, the cases cited in the column were completely fabricated. Despite the fact that these well known fabrications have been uncovered for the fantasies that they are, they still surface in print, and around the kitchen table.

Mort Zuckerman, owner of U.S. News & World Report, does not dispute that the cases are fake. The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reports that Zuckerman’s spokesman justifies the story in this way: “Few Americans would disagree with the proposition that there are far too many frivolous lawsuits filed.” I wonder if that’s true. If people knew just how much of the “evidence” that people like Zuckerman pass off as truth to support and propagate this myth, perhaps they would be more inclined to question the media than our civil justice system. Zuckerman has not indicated if the magazine will publish a retraction.

So let me get this straight. You can use false evidence to support your premise, as long as you think everyone will agree with you anyway. This is starting to sound all too familiar.

June 23, 2003, 3:15 P.M.

In the days preceding our invasion of Iraq a top White House counterterrorism advisor named Rand Beers resigned after more than 30 years of service, and offered his services to the Kerry campaign in the hopes of defeating his former boss in the next election. His wife, Bonnie Beers, commenting on her husband’s abrupt departure from the White House, where he had worked since the Reagan administration, really summed it up best. When asked to discuss the current culture in the White House she said, “It’s a very close, small, controlled group. This is an administration that determines what it thinks and then sets out to prove it. There’s almost a religious kind of certainty. There’s no curiosity about opposing points of view. It’s very scary. . .”

This is exactly what my own observations have been. I have seen many occasions where the administration has acted seemingly oblivious to obvious facts contrary to its stated position. The missing Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq is only the most glaring example.

The New York Times reported on June 19, 2003 that the EPA is preparing to publish a draft report next week on the state of the environment. The report originally contained references to studies that conclude that there could be man-made causes for global warming, such as smoke stack and tail pipe emissions. Apparently, the White House felt that editing was in order, and removed these references from the report. A former EPA official supplied drafts of the deleted section of the report as well as internal EPA correspondence to the New York Times and current EPA officials have confirmed that the documents are for real. Now, do you think that the Texas oil lobby, Dick Cheney, and Bush 43 really want anyone to know that burning coal and oil cause pollution that leads to global warming? What’s more, do they really believe that because they took these references out of the EPA’s report, that we will all think that the planet is not suffering as a result of the greenhouse gases emitted by the energy and auto industries? So if you’re one of those misguided people that really believes that human activities can contribute to global warming, you’ll certainly be relieved to find out that American industry can spew all the filth it wants into the atmosphere, and we can all sleep soundly in our beds, secure in the knowledge that global warming is one thing we don’t have to worry about. Misinformation, by omission or commission has been raised to an art form with these people! Faced with the possibility that the agency could be criticized for manipulating scientific studies to suit the administration’s policies, EPA officials decided to simply omit the climate change section of the report. Information on every subject imaginable is being manipulated to suit the administration’s agenda and to please its friends and benefactors.

The Council on Environmental Quality, a White House advisory group, was mostly responsible for the changes in the report. Who are these people? Did I vote for them? Did you? Does this story remind anyone else of the Defense Policy Board, chaired until recently by Richard Perle, the White House advisory board that talked the President into invading Iraq?

Manipulating the EPA report on climate change allows the government to avoid reasonable regulation of an industry that through its contributions to campaigns and funding of lobbyists, put the current administration and many legislators in power. Only real campaign finance reform can change this. True campaign finance reform of the kind needed to quash this level of corruption is not likely to happen while the current government is in power.

The manipulation of the EPA report, like the manipulation of intelligence regarding Iraq’s possession of WMDs, is but another symptom of the Bush administration’s propensity to ignore any information that it finds inconvenient to its stated aims. This administration rivals the Soviet Union in its ability to manipulate, obfuscate and outright lie to support its agenda and its friends. Coupled with the erosion of our civil liberties since September 11, we might as well be, in the words of John, Paul, George and Ringo, “Back in the U.S., Back in the U.S. -- Back in the U.S.S.R.”

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