I have to wonder who's pushing for this. Taxing gas gives people an incentive to be gentle on the environment and less needful of an economic entanglement that hasn't been harmonious. Taxing distance is almost like the same thing except fuel efficiency becomes irrelevant.
That could be the character in Hamlet.
I think you're judging the man too harshly. From what I recall, he wasn't credulous -- "I'm not reading this bullshit." If he was merely a passive tool Cheney wouldn't have poked him in the chest while telling him that he could "afford to lose a few points." There comes a point when the rest of ones team wants to go the other way so badly that saying, "This is a mistake." just sounds like, "I'm a traitor." This administration has been especially apt to hear internal criticism that way to boot.
OriginalArlen writes "The science fiction writer Charlie Stross has written an excellent and comprehensive explanation of why, thousands of SF books, movies, and games notwithstanding, human colonization of other star systems is impossible. Although interstellar colonization seems common-sensical to many, Charlie makes a clear-headed and unarguable case, so far as I can see, that it ain't gonna happen without a 'magic wand' or two. Nevertheless it would be interesting to see reasoned responses from the community who believe that colonization is not merely possible, but inevitable — and even, as Hawking has said, vital for the survival of the species. So, who's right — Hawking or Stross?"