The federal court's ruling against the
Environmental Protection Agency on the
subject of secondhand tobacco smoke being a
cause of cancer is devastating. It says what
should be obvious: The EPA under its current
administration is as dishonest as a bank
The EPA's assertion that secondhand smoke was
a significant cause of lung cancer was
exposed as flawed by a number of journalists
at the time it was issued. Now, a federal
judge, after considering expert testimony and
reviewing the records, has confirmed its
Here is what the EPA did:
1. It started with a conclusion.
2. It cherry-picked the studies it would
include in its analysis.
3. When even the cherry-picked studies failed
to show a statistically significant
correlation, it changed its methodology from
the standard 95 percent to 90 percent.
4. Even by the bogus 90 percent standard, the
cherry-picked studies showed only a very
5. It hid from the public the information
that it was supposed to make available.
6. It lied about why it changed the standard.
Now, regardless of how you feel about smoking
(and feel, not think, is the correct word on
this subject), you should be concerned at the
politicization of science and what amounts to
Why don't people trust the government?
Because it lies to them. It lies to them. And
when its lies are exposed, it lies some more.
This has been the standard procedure of the
Clinton administration: lies, exposed lies,
It used to be said that politics should stop
at the water's edge, meaning that foreign
policy should not be distorted by partisan
infighting. Well, that long ago has gone by
And it certainly ought to be said that
politics stops at the scientists' door. Well,
forget that. Science is as politicized in
America as it was in the Soviet Union and
Nazi Germany. And this EPA is a prime
EPA Administrator Carol Browner ought to be
fired over this fraud about secondhand smoke.
She won't be, of course. Expecting the
Clinton administration to care about honesty
is like expecting Al Capone to care about
people drinking too much.
I don't trust any information that comes out
of the Clinton administration, no matter what
department originates it. I don't trust labor
statistics, economic statistics, promises,
assertions about the environment, nothing. If
ever an administration has earned the
distrust of the American people, it's this
And that's the real political crisis in
America today. We Americans ought to be able
to trust our own government. We can easily
live with policy differences so long as they
are debated on the basis that everyone is
honestly seeking the truth.
But when government resorts to lies and
propaganda rather than facts and persuasion,
then you really enter onto dangerous ground.
A free society presupposes that everyone is
seeking the common good, even if by different
paths. It presupposes that, although they may
be mistaken, people will not lie. But when
government shows, by resorting to lies and
propaganda, that the only recourse left is
obedience, then you really no longer have a
The question was tobacco, but the principle
is much more important: honest government,
respect for and desire to find the truth.
Carol Browner's EPA flunks on both points.
Copyright © 1998 Steven
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