Surprised?

Some government scientists have complained that officials at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History took steps to downplay global warming in a 2006 exhibit on the Arctic to avoid a political backlash, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The museum’s director, Cristian Samper, ordered last-minute changes to the exhibit’s script to add “scientific uncertainty” about climate change, according to internal documents and correspondence.

Scientists at other agencies collaborating on the project expressed in e-mails their belief that Smithsonian officials acted to avoid criticism from congressional appropriators and global-warming skeptics in the Bush administration. But Samper said in an interview last week that “there was no political pressure — not from me, not from anyone.”

Samper put the project on hold for six months in the fall of 2005 and ordered that the exhibition undergo further review by higher-level officials in other government agencies. Samper also asked for changes in the script and the sequence of the exhibit’s panels to move the discussion of recent climate change further back in the presentation, records also show. The exhibit opened in April 2006 and closed in November of that year.

The Post obtained a hand-scrawled note by a curator on the project indicating there was “concern that scientific uncertainty hasn’t come out enough.” Edits to a “final script” show notations about where to add “the idea of scientific uncertainty about climate research.”

Right. I guess we’re supposed to believe that this had nothing to do with Dick Cheney’s service, as part of his vice presidential duties, on the Smithsonian’s board of regents. And nothing to do with the fact that six other regents are appointed by the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate — at the time Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) — and the Speaker of the House — at the time Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

Nothing unusual here! At any rate, D.C. residents have other, better options if they want to learn about global warming from a museum exhibit.