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Thursday, July 15, 2004

Revenge of the Nerds 

From the Dr. Jekyll half of the Wall St. Journal (meaning the news section; the slavering, malefic, setaceous, warty, pustulated, cruelly disfigured mug of Mr. Hyde may be seen exclusively on the editorial pages):
In a big shift for the normally docile scientific community, some leading researchers are mounting a political campaign to unseat President Bush this fall, accusing the administration of twisting scientific facts to fit its policies on issues such as global warming, sex education and stem-cell research.

While science issues don't loom as large as jobs and national security, Democratic strategists argue the president's record on science and environmental matters may prove vulnerable, at least to voters who haven't made up their minds.

The Bush camp sharply disagrees. Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, says, "The president's record on science is tremendous, and we will be talking about our support for science." Republicans note that Mr. Bush has supported research on hydrogen fuels and nanotechnology. His Office of Science & Technology Policy says federal research-and-development budgets have risen 44% since Mr. Bush took office to $132 billion, including boosts to medical research at the National Institutes of Health.

But attacks are intensifying. Last month, 48 Nobel Prize winners publicly endorsed Sen. John Kerry's presidential bid, while thousands of researchers have signed a statement condemning Mr. Bush's science record.

Meanwhile, a group of senior scientific leaders is close to launching "Scientists and Engineers for Kerry." Among the group's goals: galvanize voters in battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania that are home to large hospitals, research campuses and medical institutions that employ tens of thousands of potential voters . . . .

According to analyses by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a nonprofit membership group, funding increases cited by the White House mostly have gone toward testing weapons systems and other industrial work. That has left fundamental research in physics and other areas facing a budget crunch.

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