In today’s paper, Mark Meier dissects the Michael Mann/Ken Cuccinelli situation. That’s the one where our unfathomable Attorney General, who disapproves of breasts and gay people, has turned his attention to climate science.
Cuccinelli deems it a worthy use of taxpayer dollars to dig around in the e-mails of Mann, a well-known climate scientist and former UVA professor, to make sure that Mann wasn’t being shady when he applied for state research grants, thereby wasting taxpayer dollars. See, Mann’s name came up during the overblown "Climate-gate" controversy. Though his name has since been cleared, and though his colleagues readily defend his credentials, and though everyone from the ACLU to the Washington Post thinks Cuccinelli is acting stupid, the AG’s demand still stands. He wants UVA to turn over a bunch of info dating from Mann’s 1999-2005 stint at the school.
Personally, I kind of wish I lived in another state at the moment. Cuccinelli is making Virginia look like some kind of Bible-thumping backwater. I think we’re better than that, and I’m glad that UVA has so far avoided cowing to the AG’s bullying. This is clearly not about recovering taxpayer funds; it’s about fanning the flames of climate-change conspiracy theories. You might as well use public money to investigate whether vampires are illegally collecting food stamps.
I hope that, based on the feelings of its own Faculty Senate and the advice of the law firm it just hired to guide its response to Cuccinelli’s request, UVA decides to tell ol’ Ken to buzz off. That would put Virginia on the map in a much more pleasing way.