Chris Mooney

Chris Mooney is a Prospect senior correspondent and, most recently, author of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatened Our Future (with Sheril Kirshenbaum).

Recent Articles

G.W.'s Litterbox Strategy

"George and Laura Bush also own two cats, Willie, who is coal black, and six-toed Ernie, an orange-and-white feline. Ernie is named for Ernest Hemingway, who also owned a six-toed cat." -- Austin American Statesman , September 2, 2000 E arlier this month, the Bush campaign revealed its latest slogan: "Real Plans for Real People." Some found the new theme puzzling, wondering, "What exactly is a real person?" Others pondered: "What would a fake person be like?" Though the new Bush slogan raises deep questions, Rightwatch believes it has uncovered the answers. They lie in the Bush family litterbox. One of the Bushes' cats, Ernie, is named after the famous American novelist, Ernest Hemingway. Could it be that Bush was also thinking of Hemingway's unique brand of terse, evocative literary realism when he came up with his strikingly plain new slogan, "Real Plans for Real People"? By "real people," could Bush have meant Hemingway'...

The Cajun Rage:

When Pat Brister, state chairwoman of the Louisiana Republican Party , wanted to do her part to seal the 2000 election for George W. Bush, she didn't need Tom DeLay to provide an e-ticket to Florida. Instead, she just strolled out into her political backyard. Last month, Brister assembled a mid-sized Republican mob outside the Baton Rouge office of Louisiana's senior senator, Democrat John Breaux , and hand-delivered a letter urging Breaux to "call for Vice President Gore to accept the certification of the Florida Secretary of State" ensuring that Bush had won the election. Covering the media stunt, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported that Brister was unable to actually get to Breaux, and had to hand the letter over to an intern. But Louisiana Republicans had made their point. In a state George W. Bush carried handily, John Breaux was beholden to them at least as much as to the national Democratic Party. So far, Breaux hasn't called for Gore to concede...

Jingle Bell Schlock:

Politically, Christmas this year began on the evening of December 13th. Many of us witnessed the seasons' greetings on CNN. At 10:00 p.m. Eastern, George W. Bush was scheduled to deliver his presidential acceptance speech from the Texas House of Representatives, the site of his occasional bonding with a Texas Democrat. An hour before, Al Gore -- skewered by a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling -- had conceded the election. On CNN, Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff waited for signs of Bush's appearance; finally, the network switched over to Austin. The first thing that caught the viewer's eye, however, was not the new president's elfish grin, but an enormous Christmas tree , rising out of floor of the legislature as the cameras panned in. The tree appeared to have roughly the breadth of a California redwood; streaming gold ribbons, it dwarfed everyone in the chamber. And yet somehow, in later discussions of Bush's speech, it went largely un-remarked upon. Assuming...

The Ashcroft Debate:

Watching Ted Kennedy and Pat Leahy tear out John Ashcroft's entrails during his confirmation hearings this week -- he'll survive, damaged -- conservatives are getting desperate. And you can see it in their prose. Covering the second day of the Ashcroft hearings for the National Review Online -- in a piece entitled "Playing the Race Card: The Democrat strategy to label Ashcroft a racist" -- Byron York quotes from an exchange between Ashcroft and Senator Joe Biden: "I want you to understand why people are suspect [sic]," Delaware senator Joeseph Biden said as he grilled Ashcroft about an interview Ashcroft gave to Southern Partisan magazine. "Your ideology blinds you to an equal application of, not just the law, but the facts." Now, if Biden had actually said that -- which might have amounted to at least implying Ashcroft is a racist -- York's article title and whole angle would have had some merit. But now look at how the Boston Globe 's Susan Milligan...

A Few Good Conservatives

Over the pre-Thanksgiving weekend, as their alma maters clashed waspily in the Harvard-Yale game (Yale won) and as the candidates themselves went for highly publicized jogs (Governor Bush is faster), Al Gore and George W. Bush spinners continued their grating arguments for and against manual ballot recounts in Florida. In this battle of repetitiousness, conducted in any media forum available and with virtually interchangeable spokespersons -- bench Jim Baker for Marc Racicot; tag in David Boies when Warren Christopher starts falling asleep -- it's not particularly easy to warm up to either side. Indeed, in this respect, the post-campaign is very much like the campaign itself. But there's an important difference, too. Whereas the election turned on whose plans were best for the country (a matter of interpretation), the Florida recount is about who actually won the most votes (a matter of fact, though difficult to ascertain). And perhaps that's why intellectually...

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