Attorney general, Virginia
Here's a novel strategy to make sure nobody thinks too hard about the risks of global warming: Criminalize climate science. Cuccinelli, Virginia's ultraright attorney general, is using his prosecutorial power to harass and intimidate those who are raising the alarm about climate change. His first target: Michael Mann, a respected scientist whose research has shown that the Earth is experiencing rapid warming. Mann, whose work surfaced in the "climategate" scandal, was cleared of any wrongdoing by several independent investigations. But that didn't stop Cuccinelli from issuing a subpoena ordering the University of Virginia, Mann's former employer, to turn over the scientist's e-mails in an effort to discredit his research. Taking time away from prosecuting the 18,000 violent crimes committed each year in Virginia, Cuccinelli argued that Mann is guilty of criminal fraud for spending taxpayer money on studies that show the planet is warming. Such grandstanding is "an attack against the important role science plays in society," says Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "No matter how many lawsuits Cuccinelli files, it won't stop the seas from rising."