The Web Short-Circuits Dubya

President Bush has good reason to feel sorry for himself over global warming. In September, when his campaign came out in favor of limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, which was gutsier than anything Bill Clinton or Al Gore ever proposed, the media ignored it. Now that Bush is breaking that promise, the media is killing him for it. Think of it as a Zen riddle: If a candidate makes a campaign promise and no one notices, is he free to break that promise? In the pre-Internet era, the practical answer was “yes.” Nowadays, though, the press and the public can easily access Bush’s September statement, which never left the Web, and compare it to Bush’s March 13 letter to Sens. Hagel, Helms, Craig, and Roberts, in which he opposes limiting carbon dioxide emissions on the grounds that it would boost electricity prices. They can also take a peek at the Energy Department report that Bush says changed his mind and discover that it “does not address the potential benefits of reduced emissions, such as might be associated with reduced health care costs, because [the Energy Information Administration] does not have expertise in this area.” Finally, they can cruise over to the Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming Web page and find the unequivocal statement, “Careful measurements have confirmed that CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere and that human activities are the primary cause,” which contradicts Bush’s allusion in the March 13 letter to “the incomplete state of scientific knowledge of the causes of, and solutions to, global climate change.” In sum, the press and the public are well-positioned to discover that almost everything Bush has ever said on this topic was only so much CO2.