Over at the Washington Independent, Matthew Blake takes stock of EPA head Steven Johnson's abysmal tenure, and offers up a theory:

Johnson's biggest decisions, on issues like greenhouse gas emissions and ozone standards, appear dictated not by his scientific staff but by the political directives of President George W. Bush. ...

Yet Johnson is not a political appointee lacking in scientific knowledge. Rather, he served as an EPA health scientist, specializing in pesticides, for 27 years. Johnson's background, however, can almost be said to be one of his weaknesses. Instead of giving a voice to EPA scientists, he has demonstrated that he lacks the political power and experience necessary to stand up to top Bush administration officials.

Well, as they say, some are born hacks, some achieve hackery, and some have hackdom thrust upon them. Guess Johnson's in the third category…

--Bradford Plumer