The dirt on other candidates is crunchier. The piece on John Edwards revives a stinging allegation that surfaced during his 2004 vice-presidential campaign, but has not seen the light of day since. In July of that year, The Washington Times accused Edwards of using “questionable” science to win a number of medical malpractice suits in the 1980s, and the GOP used calls for tort reform to lean on Senate Democrats ahead of the election. This might seem moot in 2008 (many defended Edwards and the argument has simmered), but Science quotes Peter Agre, a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, saying that he knows people who would “never” vote for Edwards because of his track record on malpractice litigation.


The piece on Rudy Giuliani doesn’t have a lot of new material, but its tone is set by the immediate disclosure that “his campaign successfully discouraged key advisers from speaking to Science about specific issues.” It goes on to mention the success of the CompStat system he championed in New York City, which logged crime statistics and successfully guided police operations. The most novel snippet in the review is a quote from the former president of the New York Academy of Sciences talking about how the mayor showed interest in science-oriented city projects, but lacked follow-through. And, Science reminds its readers, Giuliani has drawn considerable flak this fall for misusing international prostate cancer statistics in his campaign ads.


Science’s take on Mike Huckabee centers on the obvious: his waffling on evolution and man-made climate change. The writer makes the point, however, that despite his usually conservative rhetoric, “Huckabee has often veered toward the center of the political road.” There is also the reminder that as governor of Arkansas, he aggressively pursued a referendum to use millions of dollars from tobacco settlements to fund health and medical research. Unfortunately, apart from this information, the article devotes too much space to ad hominem remarks, such as one from a Little Rock newspaper columnist who calls Huckabee “vindictive.”


McCain’s piece is fairly blas√©; as a senator, he’s been a strong supporter of climate action and has opposed George W. Bush’s limitations on embryonic stem cell research. Beyond that, Science reports, “Most non-climate science issues are far down on McCain’s list of priorities.”


The opposite seems to be true of Barack Obama. The journal found a University of Chicago pediatrician who used to invite Obama to speak to her class on racial health disparities while he was still a local community organizer. He would urge students to think about “how to use scientific inquiry to make intelligent public policy.” Obama has also been strong on global warming lately, although Science reminds readers about the hullabaloo he created last year by supporting liquid-coal legislation, and then backtracking.


In its review of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s positions, the journal starts off discussing his turbulent relationship with the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Of course, he is best known as the man who, as Clinton’s secretary of energy in 1999, fired Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee for a security breach. Lee was accused - wrongly, as it turned out - of passing secrets about the United States’ nuclear arsenal to China. The charges were reduced to mishandling sensitive information, and Richardson stripped the University of California of its responsibility for security at the weapons lab. Science ignores this bit of Richardson’s history, however, and focuses instead on his relationship with Los Alamos as governor, which was similarly turbulent - after first recruiting science advisers from the facility, he summarily fired them, according to Science. The information is intriguing, but its meaning and significance beg for elaboration, especially since Internet searches turn up little on the matter.

Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.