Another White House Energy Scandal

05/25/2011 11:45 am ET

Today's Times reports more proof of how the Bush Administration has rejected any moderate course on the environment in favor of promoting the interests of big oil companies: a little-known aide who, in dozens of instances, rewrote internal documents to raise doubts about the legitimacy of global warming science.

Phillip A. Cooney, chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, rewrote or deleted passages in scientific reports even after they'd been approved by White House higher-ups. His revisions all suggested that global warming is not a serious problem and that scientific research on the issue is unpersuasive.

Creating policy through creative rewriting isn't normally the job of a chief of staff. But even if it were, Cooney isn't qualified to do it. He's not a scientist. He's a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute. (Only in the Bush-Cheney White House would this make him a natural candidate to head the Council on Environmental Quality.)

Michele St. Martin, a White House spokeswoman, wouldn't allow Clooney to comment. "We don't put Phil Cooney on the record," Ms. St. Martin told the Times. "He's not a cleared spokesman."

If he's not a cleared spokesman, then why is Clooney writing environmental policy in public documents?

Clooney's rewriting of policy after it had already been approved by White House staff raises the question of where his loyalty lies: to George W. Bush or to the oil industry. (Let us assume there is a difference.)

President Bush should resolve the ambiguity and fire Phillip Clooney.