It's not just TV shows that jump the shark.
(The phrase comes from an episode of TV's Happy Days where "bad boy" Arthur Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) literally jumped over a shark on water skis (right). After the episode the show could not top itself, and faded.)
Today the term relates to anyone - an entertainer, a politician, a movement - that is reduced to self-parody, whose 15 minutes of fame are clearly up.
And today it applies to climate science skeptics.
It's not just their stealing, and publishing excerpts from, the private e-mails of climate scientists. It's not even the way they expected applause for the theft.
It's more about how their friends, like Sen. James Inhofe, immediately sought to launch an investigation, not of the thieves but of the victims. He said the hacked e-mail excerpts prove climate science is "contrived and fabricated."
Really? Really Senator? You steal someone's e-mail, you edit it to suit your agenda, and then seek an investigation of the victims? Even if the e-mails said what you claim (which in context they don't), they're just a collection of flames from scientists upset over your politicization of their discipline. Nothing more.
It would be nice if Democrats took Inhofe up on the offer. Let him bring these victims into his dock, and let him wave pieces of paper in their faces. Let him bring in the TV cameras.
Because the majority counsel (or Al Gore) will then be able to say, as Joseph Welch did 55 years ago, "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"
Scientists live for debate, and skeptics are a scientist's best friend. But at some point skepticism turns to cynicism, and we see the so-called skeptics for what they are, corporate-funded hacks and ideological extremists. Then we move on.
This happened with tobacco. It happened with evolution. (Serious questions about evolutionary science are no longer considered scientific.) I haven't heard anyone seriously suggest the theory of spontaneous combustion in weeks and weeks. And if you claim the Sun goes around the Earth, you're headed for a loony bin.
So it will be, now, with the climate skeptics. They have finally jumped the shark. They have no decency. Everyone can see it.
It's something to be truly thankful for this Thanksgiving.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com