McCain Straight-Talk express derailed

By Phil Plait | February 15, 2007 9:29 pm

Oh, remember the days when Senator and presidential wannabe Senator John McCain was the straightest talker in the political arena?

Poof. Gone.

He’s speaking in Seattle at an event co-sponsored by the Discovery Institute, the think-tank den of iniguity where creationists dream up how to more convincingly lie to the public about science.

Unless McCain is going there to tell them to their faces that they are evil, unscrupulous liars, then I am done with McCain. Honestly, the past few months he’s done what he can to alienate the mainstream of America by courting the fundamentalists and going back on promises he made, which really ought to be enough. This is just icing on that cake. If he’s willing to woo (and I use that word quite purposely) that collection of scammers, then he is not to be trusted in the White House. Period.


Comments (48)

  1. But what is the event? Is it endorsing the DI and/or their opinions- or is it ‘merely’ being co-sponsored by the DI?

  2. Oh- OK, I followed the link

    This is the talk

    What is the role of the U.S. in the global community? How should the U.S. position itself over the next decade? What are the challenges, and how should they be addressed? What are the future global impacts on Washington State? United States Senator John McCain will address these topics of global relevance and their relation to the Puget Sound region at the Westin Hotel in Seattle on Friday, February 23 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m

  3. It’s not surprising. McCain is a reDiscovery Institute Intelligent Design Hall of Fame Member!. Get these McCain quotes:

    “…when I stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon and look at that grandeur, I detect the hand of God there in the time before time. I see no reason why students should not be exposed to all theories, recognizing that Darwin’s theory’s certainly one that is generally accepted in most of the scientific community. I think it’s not inappropriate to say there are also people who believe this. Let the student decide.” Intelligent Design is “a theory, just like evolution is a theory…”

  4. Stuart

    Sure, this looks bad for McCain. But before you condemn him to the fires of the Hell you don’t believe in, look at his great contributions to American politics over the last few years:

    He voted to abolish that unnecessary impediment to the successful prosecution on the War on Terror, habeus corpus.

    He still enthusiastically supports The Great Leader’s Glorious War, in defiance of the many weak-willed cowards (70% of the US population) who call that war “unnecessary, wasteful, and downright immoral”.

    Now I realise that the War on Terror doesn’t affect Science directly, which might cause you to disregard this Great Patriot’s immeasurable contributions.

    But just think, by supporting The Great Leader in His war efforts, McCain is also lending Him the strength to continue supporting such worthy scientific endeavours such as Intelligent Design, while crushing the evil, unscientific and immoral Global Warming and Stem Cell Research efforts.

    After all, with no habeus corpus, Evolutionists, Global Warming heretics, and Embryo Murders have nowhere to hide.

    Long Live the Messiah, Bush!
    And his prophet, John (the Baptist) McCain!

  5. DavidHW

    Yeah, only naive liberals and moderates have ever been fooled by McCain’s “centrism”. He’s as dangerous as the rest of the neo-fascists. Plus, he’s a coward too — look up how he rolled over to Bush after Bush smeared him in the 2000 South Carolina primary.

    No, science (and America) does NOT need McCain.

  6. BC

    This is was the event that really made me realize how much of a suckup McCain was becoming in his quest for the presidency:

    In a speech in Virginia during the 2000 Republican primary race, McCain said: “Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or [Rev.] Al Sharpton on the left or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.” Yet in March 2006, Falwell announced that McCain would be the commencement speaker at Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, on May 13. Then, during the April 2 broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press, host and NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert asked McCain: “Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?” McCain replied: “No, I don’t. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain to you his views on this program when you have him on.”

    Why can’t politicians actually have a spine when it comes to shutting out the ignorant religious right in our country?

  7. Chip

    I am one of the “liberals” (i.e. true patriots) who though anti-Republican nevertheless held a slight admiration for John McCain’s plain-spoken qualities (in the old days.) However, since he let Bush spit on him and then kissed up to him and then snuggled up to Jerry Falwell – I have zero respect for him. None.

  8. It’s hilarious that Republicans jump all over McCain as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) and Dems love him as one of their own when, in reality, he’s one of the biggest culture conservatives out there and probably the only fiscal conservative left in the GOP. But he occasionally works with Democrats, so that makes him wonderful/evil, depending on you perspective.

    I’ve never cared for him too much. He always seemed somewhat disingenuous and his Incumbenet Re-election Bill, er, Campaign Finance Reform, was hideous.

  9. Repeat after me: “den of iniquity”, “den of iniquity”.

    I appologise if iniguity is a newly coined word I didn’t know about. (I actually wrote iniquity three times before I managed to get it “right” in that sentence. :D)

  10. I should think that, all legitimate evidence to the side since fundies don’t listen to it anyway, intelligent design theory should be obvious BS.

    Nothing I’ve ever designed has worked properly, no machine I’ve built, no computer code I’ve written, no system of organization I’ve devised, no schedule I’ve made and no plan I’ve ever implemented that was more complex than two steps has ever worked the way I’ve envisioned it. Everything of mine that has ever worked has been the product of trial and error, the constant reworking of ideas on the fly (tantamount to evolution in a sense) or simply a conflagrations of happy accidents.

    That, I should think would put it to bed right there but it never does, does it?

  11. Ben

    @ Christian Burnham
    Actually you are right. The Discovery Institute is just the co-presenter.

    The talk is being presented i.e. held and co-ordinated by the Seattle CityClub and the World-Affairs council. Other co-presenters include the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies. So, if anyone really wants to say University of Washington = DI, it’s fine with me but they might get a bit grumpy.

    The talk is being sponsored by a Seattle den of anti-science iniquity. No not Microsoft – Boeing.

    But otherwise. Like any press release from DI, this has to be taken with a grain an ocean of salt.

    I also blogged this in response to the post at The Moderate Voice.

  12. Iniguity: we like, don’t change a letter. Maybe an ID or creationist shrill or fellow traveller should be called an iniguit from now on. 10 years on, it could be in the Oxford English Dictionary.

  13. Alex Whiteside

    Intelligent Design is “a theory, just like evolution is a theory…”

    No, intelligent design is a theory just like cold fusion is a theory.

  14. No.

    Intelligent design is a theory like Utah is an anglepoise lamp.

  15. Alex Whiteside

    For the Scrubs fans: Intelligent design is a theory like Doctor Pepper is a doctor.

  16. Gerrsun

    Dr. Acula is a Doctor.

  17. Dr. Who? 😉

    Seriously, what do you really expect from a politician? He’s going to pander to anyone who he thinks can get him enough votes to win in 2008.

    If anyone has been alive more than five minutes they should know that there’s no such thing as an honest politician anymore. They will sell their own children for a vote or for perks. Honor? Integrity? Thy name is not politician.

    Heck, there’s a couple of them there State legislators who are in trouble because of their stupid mouths and stupid beliefs….

    Earth’s Rotation a Jewish Conspiracy?

  18. Howcum nobody ever gets upset that Bill Gates donates $1,000,000 to the Discovery Institute?

  19. Oops! That’s $1,000,000 annually.

  20. Kevin,

    Wow — your “conspiracy” link is a doozy. Check it out folks, a crackpot state legislator in Georgia manages to get a “Pharisee” Jewish conspiracy, Geocentrism, evolution, the big bang, and Kabbalah all tied together in a single not-so-tidy package.

    Just amazing how some folks brains “work” (or more accurately, don’t).


  21. sirjonsnow

    Like Jim is a vampire?

  22. MarshallDog


    Your link provided this little bit of inspiring material:

    “Asked if he agreed with the Kaballah evolution conspiracy theory and the earth’s lack of motion, he (Rep Ben Bridges [R, Ga]) told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, ‘I agree with it more than I would the Big Bang Theory or the Darwin Theory. I am convinced that rather than risk teaching a lie why teach anything?'”

    You know, I thought I had a lot to say about this, but I can’t. It’s just an insanely stupid quote, so I can’t really form a response. I guess my biggest problem with this situation is that this man has been chosen by certain people in this country to be a leader and role model. WTF?

  23. Chet Twarog

    This is somewhat misplaced but… Phil, why do we get these articles from astrophysicists?
    ” Dark Matter And God Particle Within Reach”
    Paris (AFP) Feb 16, 2007
    “The boundaries of knowledge in particle physics look set to be broken soon with scientists around the globe locked in a multi-billion-dollar race to solve two great mysteries. Their quest: find the secrets of dark matter and the ‘God particle’ – a sub-atomic particle that is fundamental to understanding the nature of matter, but so elusive that, physicists quip, it can only be compared to divinity.”

  24. John

    “Dr. Acula”

    DrAcula?! I never got that before! LOL!

  25. spacewriter

    I don’t think most Dems hail McCain as one of their own — but if the poster who thinks that has some solid proof,please, by all means, trot it out.

    I am a liberal, non-Dem (read: unaffilated voter) who once thought McCain might be a good president. Since then, I’ve watched in dismay as this man (who did fight for his country and who has sponsored some good legislation) has pandered to the ugliest impulses of the right wing in order to gain some traction. And, it’s getting him nowhere with anybody. I regret I ever voted for him in a primary (the ONLY time I ever declared a party status so I could vote in a primary, and I switched back as soon as the primary was over and then went home and washed my hands in bleach).

    The point here is that he’s accepting invitations and apparent help from idiots, and that’s dismaying. Trying to paint him as a favorite of one party or another is time-wasting. Let’s just call him for what he is: a politician with no devotion except to his own welfare.

  26. The problem, I suppose, is that the Republican Party has reached the point where the yahoo vote and the robber-baron vote are all they have left. And poor McCain has a distaste for robber barons.

  27. Gary Ansorge

    McCain is a politician.
    Politicians lie.
    McCain lies.

    We can probably safely say this country has matured when an agnostic or atheist can be upfront about their belief system and still get elected.

    Oh, wait, that would require an honest politician, which we’ve already seen is a contradiction in terms,,,

    Crap! Circular logic sucks!

    Vote for a DeadHead!

    Gary 7

  28. Howcum nobody ever gets upset that Bill Gates donates $1,000,000 to the Discovery Institute?

    Because his donations are for the Cascadia Project. From the DI website itself

    “Our immediate focus is to create long-term transportation solutions along the I-5 and the parallel Northwest Rail Corridor from Oregon to Vancouver, B.C.,” said Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute. “We’re planning for answers that will serve our region 50 years from now, and we’re confident that many of the programs we are developing may have applicability to other regions of North America.”

    ““The multi-year commitment from the Gates Foundation will allow us to convene some of the best talent in the region—and nation—to apply their knowledge and ideas to long term transportation challenges,” said Bruce Agnew, director of Discovery Institute’s Cascadia Project. “From the impasse on the Alaska Way Viaduct’s future and the SR520 corridor from Seattle to the Eastside, to the unmet promise of high speed passenger rail, we aim to help break the current deadlock and implement a forward vision and a practical action agenda.””

  29. j1mb0

    Marshall i feel ya, i live in NE and the people here are crazy. Haven’t you ever seen the husker fans on TV. Well, I’m in the red sea. Yikes!

  30. j1mb0

    Wrong Guy – Doh i just reread the thing, well our represenitives def. don’t share my opion

  31. Chet Twarog

    Gary 7 wrote: “We can probably safely say this country has matured when an agnostic or atheist can be upfront about their belief system and still get elected.”
    Add: when we can be nudists in public places outdoors.
    As an Atheist, I would add that our society will have matured when an Atheist or Agnostic can be upfront anywhere, anytime, and not be reviled,
    disliked, hated, snubbed, or considered “unethical, immoral, or anything goes”. Further, when the religious faithful stop stating “I’ll pray for you; or Jesus loves you; you’ll go to hell; etc.”
    When we are freely ourselves.

  32. DennyMo

    DavidHW, calling McCain a coward is childish. Learn about what he went through as a POW in Viet Nam (without hyperventilating about why we were there in the first place), and tell us if you think “coward” still fits.

    Call him a waffler, turncoat, typical politician, whatever, but “coward” definitely does not apply.

  33. TommyB

    McClain is in a tough spot. Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t.

    People who understand science revel in inquiry and discovery, by careful investigation, analysis, and exploration. Creationists naturally resist this because they don’t like the discoveries of true science and the probing questions they encourage. It is a sad day when their whole belief system lingers on the edge of fear that their view of a creator may, in fact, be primitive. Wouldn’t “God” be an even more incredible “being” to have set in motion the forces that actually formed our universe? Fundamentalist christians are not unlike the al-quaida muslims in that they want everyone to believe that they alone have the right way, that they are god’s messenger, and that life would be better in the 7th century.

    There is a reason the puritans were ‘thrown’ out of Europe!

  34. Irishman

    Hmm, while the laundry list of McCain “sins” is getting fairly long, I’m hesitant to count this incident as one of them. As Rev. BigDumbChimp alludes to, the Discovery Institute is broader than just the Center for Cultural Renewal. The CCR is just the publicized arm advocating ID. The Cascadia Project is from a different arm of the Discovery Institute.

    From the linked website, it appears that McCain has been invited to speak in the Seattle area by a collection of Seattle promotional orgs (CityClub of Seattle, Seattle World Affairs Council), one of which is the broad organization, the Discovery Institute. The topic of the talk is about U.S. world affairs and how they affect Washington state and Puget Sound. That doesn’t sound much like a Creationist talk to me.

    John W. Kennedy, actually Bill Gates did get a lot of flack once people found out. That’s how I learned about the Cascadia project and about the breadth of the Discovery Institute. Gates’ money does not go to ID causes, it goes to the infrastructure improvement of the Seattle area. I think you can see why he might care about the infrastructure of Seattle.

    Thanks, Kevin, for giving me a headache. We’ve got these clowns in Austin? Yikes.

    Chet, that’s a pet peeve of mine – physicists using grandiose religious metaphors to glorify their work. Instead of capturing the imagination of the people, it just obfuscates their work, cheapens religion, and makes scientists look arrogant.

    John W. Kennedy said:
    > The problem, I suppose, is that the Republican Party has reached the point where the yahoo vote and the robber-baron vote are all they have left. And poor McCain has a distaste for robber barons.


  35. Shane T

    i want to encourage everyone reading this who is displeased with Sen. McCain’s comments about ID to write his office in Arizona, or Washington D.C. If he gets a lot of letters, and e-mails to his office saying how oblivious he seems to be on the subject, and how he can expect a vote against him November, 2008 he will pay attention, because he is losing votes.

  36. Irishman

    TommyB, I assume you’re trying to be funny – the Puritans were not “thrown out of Europe”. They fought to leave England because of religious oppression, which took several tries before they finally managed it. Then they set up in Amsterdam, known for religious leniency. The problem – religious leniency. The Dutch were way to lenient for the Puritans, allowing all sorts of unGodliness. So the Puritans chose to make a new start in the Americas.

  37. @Chet Twarog:

    You ask a darn good question. Years ago, Carl Sagan chided those who called the Higgs boson a “God particle”. He inquired that if experiments do not find the higgs (it’s certainly possible), then is the God hypothesis disproved? It’s a little unfortunate that our current hypotheses of Higgs-boson behavior indicate that it would have no antiparticle, for if it did, we would have a God particle and its Satanic twin! Moreover, supposing we do uncover its telltale traces in the subatomic debris blasted apart by the Large Hadron Collider, the discovery will tell us absolutely nothing about whether we should eat meat on Fridays or circumcise our male infants. It’ll just be one more truth we know about our Universe, answering a question which no holy scripture has ever thought to raise in a language which prophets have never spoken, even when they speak in tongues.

    The physicist Victor Stenger wrote,

    Recent highly publicized results from the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite have provided further confirmation of the big-bang theory. Somehow the media has taken this as an unprecedented verification of the biblical view of creation and, by inference, the existence of a Creator. […] I’ve looked at the picture of the COBE results that has been widely published and am afraid I can’t make out the words “I am, who am” spelled out in the sky.

    Why do people keep using foolish terms? Well, I could throw out a few guesses. Physicists are raised to use the word God as a kind of poetic shorthand for the sum total of natural laws governing the Universe or the fundamental order of everything. It’s the heritage we have from witticisms like Einstein’s line about God not playing dice with the Universe (a case in which Einstien’s intuition played him false, as far as we know today). If your “God” is a Spinozan pantheistic thing, if by “God” you naturally mean “all the Cosmos” or at least “the most fundamental aspects of the Cosmos”, well then calling an elusive yet fundamental constituent of matter a “God particle” might flow naturally from your tongue.

    We might also have physicists trying to justify a prior religious belief, bending logic and speaking with a little metaphor to make themselves feel they have not abandoned the faith of their family. Then we have journalists who want a hook to sell their story and find it in a ready-made term, just as they’d call something “the Holy Grail of physics”. One could call the “God particle” term a meme: it spreads without regard to the actual science, hopping from one speaker to the next thanks to its own infectious nature.

    Every field of intellectual inquiry has its own particular bane. We physicists have to deal with God particles, seeing the mustache and beard of God in the cosmic microwave background, and so forth. Linguists must confront the perilous assertion, “If Eskimos have N words for snow, then surely X must have M words for Y.” Finally, everyone stands shoulder to shoulder against one hazard: the accusation that we are looking for the Holy Grail of X, even though Indiana Jones found that humble artifact long ago.

  38. dre


    what’s the background on bill gates’ contributions to the DI? seems like i’ve heard of it before, but i vaguely remember that he was donating to a tech research organization that was distantly tied to the DI. is he really giving that money straight to the ID-pushing heart of the DI?

  39. skeptigirl


    The Gates Foundation responds that it hasn’t abandoned science to back intelligent design. Greg Shaw, Pacific Northwest director, explains that the grant to Discovery underwrites the institute’s “Cascadia Project,” which strictly focuses on transportation in the Northwest. The Discovery Web site lists several program goals, including financing of high-speed passenger rail systems and reduction of automobile congestion in the Cascadia region, which encompasses Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. (The Gates Foundation, which is based in Seattle, gives a small slice of its money — about $40 million in 2004 — to groups that aim to improve life in the Pacific Northwest.) Poor transportation is a key problem for low-income families, Shaw says, and “when Cascadia came to the Foundation, there was a sense that there had not been a regional approach to studying transportation. Cascadia’s plan to solve the transportation problem “was very much a bipartisan state, local and regional approach with a variety of states and counties and mayors.” He didn’t know if people at the foundation were aware of Discovery’s I.D. work at the time they decided to fund Cascadia. “It is absolutely true that we care about sound science as it pertains to saving lives,” he says. “The question of intelligent design is not something that we have ever considered. It’s not something that we fund.”

    John W K may not have investigated his above claim very well, but anyone familiar with the Gate’s philanthropy would know their two biggest themes are health and education. I have never heard the Gates mention any religious beliefs or affiliations. They never claim to thank gods for anything publicly, and I doubt they have strong religious beliefs if they have any. The Gates have supported charter schools legislation in WA State, which unfortunately is often a disguise for seeking public funding for parochial schools, but charter schools are also promoted by some who think the private market might improve schools.

    Gates is not promoting anything at the DI except the transportation project. And that’s no surprise considering we have one of the highest traffic congestion levels in the nation.

  40. skeptigirl

    There is no shortage of people in Congress including McCain who are confused about why ID is a not considered a viable scientific theory.

    We in the science community have done a poor job countering the ID/Creation community’s shifting of the argument from, why there is no scientific evidence supporting ID, to the fairness of teaching all scientific theories.

    For all intents and purposes, we ignore the argument about fairness because it’s so obvious to us that ID is not a viable scientific theory. We do argue ID is not science. But instead of debating the weak and refuted scientific arguments ID promoters claim supports ID ‘theory’, we argue science doesn’t investigate ‘designers’ because there is no way to apply the scientific process to such problems.

    The public hears just what the ID/Creation supporters want the public to hear, science is biased against religious beliefs and excludes ID on that basis. The public doesn’t hear, ID is excluded because the hypotheses that supposedly support ID have been demonstrated to be incorrect.

    That’s our bad. We might be addressing the ID nonsense correctly, but we aren’t addressing it effectively.

  41. Excellent analysis on McCain, but I think there is a bigger picture here that you are missing, Phil.

    McCain is most definitely not worthy of the position of President. But who is? Nobody! Its a loaded question.

    It is the equivalent of asking, “who can responsibly hold the position of ‘Evil Overlord of the Universe'”?

    The proper question to ask oneself is not who can best lead the Mafia, but whether the Mafia should be granted the right to exist…

  42. BC

    Sounds like McCain isn’t getting any love at home from some of the Arizona Republicans, either. Should show just how divided this country is.

    Meanwhile, disgusted with Mr. McCain’s position on proposed changes to immigration laws (he advocates legalization that would not require illegal immigrants to leave the country), with what some see as wavering on the issue of gay marriage (he lent his name to a state ballot initiative to ban it but did not support a constitutional amendment), and with the campaign finance act that bears his name, some Arizona Republicans are making trouble for Mr. McCain.

    “I could be persuaded to vote for someone else,” Kathleen Hall, 60, a Republican who supported Mr. Bush in 2000, said as she sipped coffee in a Scottsdale outdoor mall this week. “McCain is not my favorite candidate. He would just as easily tomorrow turn into a Democrat.”

    When republicans are complaining that he is “wavering on the issue of gay marriage” because he “lent his name to a state ballot initiative to ban it but did not support a constitutional amendment”, it shows just how uncompromising the republicans have become.

  43. Sue Mitchell

    So Intelligent Design is “a theory, just like evolution is a theory,” huh?

    Then gravity’s just a theory too. Why don’t they find a high cliff – or the top of the Grand Canyon would do – and test that one…? ::evil grin::

  44. cmb62

    To find out why John McCain is attending an event co-sponsored by the Discovery Institute, I emailed him. If I receive a response, I’ll post it here.

    If you want to email John McCain, here is the address of his presidential exploratory committee.

  45. Brian

    As our beloved Kansas City poet Calvin Trillin said when McCain groveled at the feet of Jerry Fawell: “Ambition accomplished what torture could not”

  46. Kaptain K

    Senator McCain continues his pandering to the religious right Sunday by advocating repeal of Roe v Wade.

  47. cmb62

    Well, it has been over a week now and I have still not heard from the John McCain presidential exploratory committee. I also read earlier today where the good senator thinks it would be a good thing to overturn Roe v Wade as Kaptain K notes above.

    The religious right is welcome to him.


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