Phil Cooney's Little Red Pencil

I was fascinated this morning by the NY Times' facsimiles of ex-oil lobbyist, non-scientist Phillip Cooney's amendments to the scientific reports on global warming. According to the article, the government had an interest in making the facts that had been uncovered by scientists "fit" existing Bush Administration policy. Rather like the way the intelligence, according to the now famous Tony Blair memo, was "fixed" to pursuade the public to back a war in Iraq.

Enter Phil Cooney with his little red pencil.

As I studied the facsimiles of the documents that Cooney altered, I wondered: what other famous tracts might be different now if this political Bowdler had been on the scene?

How would the Declaration of Independence, for instance, read if he'd been able to red-pencil it before the Founding Fathers could post it? Would the headline reference to "Thirteen United States of America" been scratched through with the note "delete Massachusetts, it's outside the mainstream?" Would the phrase "Nature's God" have needed an extra dependent clause explaining that what was really meant was the "God" of the "Christian" right? And would the phrase "the right of the People" be scratched out in favor of "the office of the Vice President?"

President Bush says his favorite philosopher is Jesus Christ... and that letting Christ into his heart allowed him to give up alcohol and save his life. The President should remind himself of Christ's directive that it is "the truth" that sets us free. Not the politically expedient corruption of fact. The truth will set you free... unless I'm remembering those words incorrectly. Or somebody has gotten to them with a little red pencil.