15 February 2006

Why not Crichton for president?

Michael Moore was right. We do live in fictional times. Just how fictional? Well, you know things are bad when a novelist is among the most powerful Americans involved in setting government policy on one of the biggest challenges facing the country.

It's been three days since word came that Fred Barnes' new book on the second Bush presidency contains a reference to a visit between the president and Michael Crichton. Three days is an eternity in the blogosphere. But as Chris Mooney laments, where's the outrage? So I'm doing my little part to turn a tiny spark into a firestorm.

Let's recap Mr. Crichton's accomplishments of late. On 28 September 2005, he appeared before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to discuss climate change at the request of Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe. This is the senator who called the idea that humans are at least partly responsible for a warming world the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Crichton appears to share that sentiment, comparing climate change alarmism to the eugenics movement. Seriously.

Next, just a couple of weeks ago, the
Association of Petroleum Geologists presented its annual award for "notable journalistic achievement in any medium which contributes to public understanding of geology, energy resources, or the technology of oil and gas exploration" to Crichton.

Now we learn, via a review of Barnes fawning new book, Rebel-in-Chief, "
that the president fundamentally doesn't accept the theory of global warming and was reinforced in that belief by a private meeting not with any scientist but rather with novelist Michael Crichton..."

[Update: The relevant excerpt from the book itself (via Tod Gitlin at TPM Cafe):
"Though he didn't say so publicly, Bush is a dissenter on the theory of global warming....He avidly read Michael Crichton's 2004 novel State of Fear, whose villain falsifies scientific studies to justify draconian steps to curb global warming....Early in 2005, political adviser Karl Rove arranged for Crichton to meet with Bush at the White House. They talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement. The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalist s all the more."]
All this attention and praise for a science-fiction author whose last original idea can be found in 1971's Andromeda Strain. It is clear that his newfound authority on climate change is a side-effect of his latest novel, State of Fear. The fact that Crichton grossly misrepresents the science of climatology in that book isn't the point -- although the Real Climate team handily demolished Crichton's attempt to imbue his fantasy with science back in 2004.

No, the point is this: what the hell is a novelist doing testifying before Congress, winning a science journalism award and advising the president? I mean, while you're at it, why not give him the nomination for the Republican ticket in 2008? Then we'd really have a fictional president.


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