Chris Mooney

Chris Mooney is a Prospect senior correspondent and, most recently, author of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatened Our Future (with Sheril Kirshenbaum).

Recent Articles

Conservatives v. Cheney

After prolonged coyness, George W. Bush has finally announced that he has tapped Richard B. Cheney, former George Bush defense secretary, to be on the Republican ticket. Bush had said he wanted a "forward-looking administration," but then picked one of Daddy's dinosaurs. Bush had once promised that his veep choice would be an "electrifying" one -- but the selection of Cheney seems more likely to cause a GOP power outage. Conservatives as well as liberals have been setting off Cheney-bombs. Perhaps after a few more editorial meetings, conservative opinators will rally around Bush Sr.'s trusty stalwart, the Texas oil baron from Wyoming. But so far, they seem crestfallen. Before Cheney's selection became official, many writers continued to fantasize in print that the Cheney leak was a bait and switch -- and that Bush had finally convinced Colin Powell to join the ticket. More prominently, though, Bush's second-guessers are busily worrying that Cheney's selection...

A Vast *!?@ Conspiracy

For chronic Clinton-haters, it was a glorious weekend. The object of their joy? A book by National Enquirer writer Jerry Oppenheimer , published by conservative sugar-daddy Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins press, containing allegations that 26 years ago Hillary Clinton called someone a "fucking Jew bastard" in a moment of anger. When you consider that the person allegedly slandered -- then-Bill Clinton campaign manager Paul Fray -- is actually a Baptist, the story starts to seem rather Area 51-ish. And that's before you read these lines from Fray's three year old apology letter to Hillary, released by her campaign: "At one point in my life, I would say things without thinking, without factual foundation, and without rhyme or remedy until it furthered my own agenda. I was wrong, and I have wronged you." As New York Times columnist Gail Collins wrote of Hillary's alleged anti-Semitic remark, "There's no way to prove a negative. But if you buy this one,...

Standard Shift

U .S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has been getting himself dusty in the law library lately. News organizations reported on July 12 that Ashcroft, a National Rifle Association member, had reversed the Justice Department's long-standing constitutional interpretation of the Second Amendment (which reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"). According to Ashcroft, the amendment protects a robust individual right to bear arms for every American, and not merely a collective right limited to militia service, as federal courts have ruled. This is no mere abstract intellectual dispute: The Justice Department shift could make it easier to bring constitutional challenges against the nation's gun laws. In a May letter to the National Rifle Association, Ashcroft maintained that his individual-rights interpretation "is embraced by the preponderance of legal scholarship on the subject...

Jumping the Gun

The Weekly Standard ran a story in July titled "Taking the Second Amendment Seriously," its cover art showing the weather-stained statue of what looks like a militiaman. The article--actually a thick chunk of legalese by George Mason law professor Nelson Lund--turns out to be the latest conservative gush-fest over an April 1999 federal district court ruling out of northern Texas affirming an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. Thanks to the NRA, most Americans believe the Amendment already confers such a right. But the federal courts have generally only endorsed a "collective" right to bear arms in the context of a state militia, such as the National Guard. Gun rightists hope the Texas case U.S. v. Emerson will ultimately percolate up to the Supreme Court, where it could become a landmark--the gun issue's equivalent of Roe v. Wade . At NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, Lund's article is probably already responsible for overheating several copying machines...

The Real Gun Crisis

It was Sunday morning, Mother's Day. In Washington, D.C., the Clintons were welcoming Million Mom Marchers at the White House before their rally, while near the Washington Monument, the Second Amendment Sisters were beginning to assemble. But in North Michigan, in the town of Menominee near the Wisconsin border, it was also the morning after the local high school's prom, and B.J. Stupak, son of the four-term Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak, had been found dead in his home. The apparently thriving high school junior -- recently elected president of the student council and named to prom court -- had shot himself. As Capitol Hill mourned the tragic death of Stupak's son, Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono decided something had to be done. She sent an open letter to the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre, encouraging the group "to inform parents, teens and all gun owners of the potentially dangerous connection between the access to a gun and suicide." In B.J.'...

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