December 18, 2002

SEVERAL LEFTY BLOGGERS HAVE EMAILED and asked me to link to this TomPaine.Com reward offer regarding the Thimerosal/vaccine issue. I'm happy to oblige.

I don't know a lot about this issue, and I'm all for legislative transparency (I even support Brannon Denning's "Truth-in-Legislation Amendment" proposal). But on the merits -- the Thimerosal issue itself -- I think this is probably bogus.

Regarding the Thimerosal suits, MedPundit Sydney Smith writes: "The litigation of thimerosal truly is one of those abuses of the legal system that makes tort reform necessary. (Here's the article from the Lancet on mercury levels in vaccinated children the editorial mentions.)"

And Derek Lowe has a series of posts on this (scroll down from this link) and he thinks it's bogus, too. What I notice is that this is another case of something that I used to see on wacky right-wing websites now being picked up by the left. That doesn't by itself guarantee that there's nothing to it, but it adds to my doubts.

The merits of the Thimerosal / autism connection, of course, are in a sense independent of the question of whether stuff should wind up in legislation without leaving fingerprints. I don't think that it should. But there have been all sorts of legislative shenanigans like that -- Tom Foley's clock-stopping to secure the passage of the assault-weapons ban, for example -- and I think it's fair to say that, while they're bad, they're not abuses that are engaged in exclusively, or even overwhelmingly, by a single party.

My guess, in fact, is that a Truth-in-Legislation regime would tend to disfavor all sorts of big-government initiatives, which liberals usually like. But I could be wrong about that.

UPDATE: Okay, where's my reward?

CARVILLE: I understand. But did the White House put it in?

ARMEY: There were members of the White House that wanted it. Well, you know, you really have to say it was my bill, I wrote it, I put it in. . . .

CARLSON: I'm just curious, and I don't want to spend the whole show on it. How did it get in there? Was it like the immaculate conception? Or you put it in or you dropped it in?

ARMEY: I put it in.

You guys can just PayPal me the money -- the link's on the left.