Friday, 6 October 2000

He's kicking butt in rehab.

The presidential debate Tuesday night drew the smallest audience in history. Two networks, NBC and Fox, didn't even bother to air it. They might have made the smart decision. It was all canned goods, and moderator Jim Lehrer didn't try to pry any of it open. But Bush did trot out one new research area: fuzzy math. Word is that it will be a new NSF initiative.

Not to be upstaged by their standard bearers, former House Science Committee Chairman Bob Walker, an unpaid advisor to the Bush campaign, and Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President David Beier, who spoke for the Gore campaign, duked it out yesterday at the AAAS. Well, sort of. Walker said that Bush would pull education out of recession, make the R&D tax credit permanent, double the NIH budget, push through tort reform and eliminate stock divestiture for all federal workers. (Dick Cheney's name didn't come up.) Beier said that Gore would improve education, press for the R&D tax credit, double the NIH budget, maintain balance in the R&D portfolio and continue to treat science horizontally - hopefully not the budget. On creationism, Walker said that he couldn't speak for Bush, while Beier said that Gore opposed teaching it in science classes, but it was OK for religious instruction. Moderator Joe Palca (NPR) looked pretty relaxed. No networks covered the show.

Only two months ago, DOE'S Office of Science was on the slippery slope. Budget caps, radiation leaks, security leaks and a defiant Secretary had given the Department a ghastly rap. And the science accounts headed down. But after thousands of researchers flooded the Hill with letters during the August recess, appropriators reversed course. In the last minute scramble to get out of town, Congress has now opened the spending spigot, and conferees have turned cuts into increases. Here's the round-up of DOE R&D gains: Office of Science Total 14.0%, High-Energy Physics 2.2%, Nuclear Physics 3.6%, Fusion 1.8%, Basic Energy Sciences 30.0% (Spallation Neutron Source 136.3%), Advanced Scientific Computing 14.3%, Biological & Environmental Research 14.3%, Multiprogram Lab Support 15.5%. But not so fast. The White House has threatened a veto over a Missouri River water control plan. Still, WN is cracking open a bottle of Moet.

This week's WN was written by Michael Lubell.

Bob Park can be reached via email at
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.