Well, we all knew it would be a second whitewash of CRU and its climate alarmist pseudo-data; but even the most hard-headed sceptics among us probably thought that Lord Oxburgh's inquiry would be a tad more sophisticated in its brushwork, that it would make some effort to persuade rather than patronise, that its bland conclusions would be a little less blatant and in-your-face.
Not so. If you want incontrovertible evidence that it is business as usual for the arrogant academic establishment, today has provided it. In the popular jargon, they still don't get it. They imagine the AGW scam will go on forever, along with all the other lies with which the political class deluges the public. This effort is too sloppy really to merit the term whitewash: the sceptical graffiti are still clearly visible through the transparent white coating.
"We found a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganised researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention," said Oxburgh. I love that. It paints a moving (in the way a Disney animated cartoon is tear-jerking) picture of some loveable boffins, unversed in the ways of the world, being dragged out, blinking, into the glare of publicity, like embarrassed lottery winners. All it needs is Snow White. Here were we thinking that Phil Jones was a ruthless manipulator blocking the publication of colleagues' sceptical views, but he turns out to be Susan Boyle in a white coat.
Predictably (most sceptical commentators could have written the text in advance) Oxburgh found "absolutely no evidence of any impropriety whatsoever"
. He added: "Whatever was said in the e-mails, the basic science seems to have been done honestly and fairly." I get it. They spent every day working with impeccable integrity and objectivity to produce absolutely accurate and unchallengeable data; then they went onto their computers for relaxation and played a daft game in which they pretended to "hide the decline", try the "Nature trick" and censor the publication of conflicting views.
Then, realising that outsiders might mistake this practical joke for the real thing, they exchanged panicky messages urging one another to delete e-mails. That does not quite explain why they also resisted Freedom of Information requests for access to their impeccable data, so we must attribute that to the natural shyness of these timid woodland creatures, as depicted by Lord Oxburgh.
Clearly, Lord Oxburgh is a safe pair of hands. He sounds like the kind of chap who could rehabilitate the Piltdown Man. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is having a good belly-laugh at British academic "standards": the CRU - and now Lord Oxburgh and Co - have made our scientists a global laughing stock.
For sheer chutzpah, though, I take my hat off to Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science. This jester now says: "I think those so-called sceptics who have attempted to undermine the credibility of climate change science on the basis of the hacked e-mails now need to apologise for misleading the public about their significance."
Clearly, the AGW camp takes a dim view of misleading the public. Is it just my irredeemable scepticism, or am I right in forecasting that the CRU is not about to receive many apologies? Globally, slightly more people currently believe the world is supported on the back of a giant turtle than believe in the AGW scam. Never mind, lads and lasses at CRU: on with the motley, back to the computer model and keep your spirits up. Hide the decline! Erase all e-mails! Peer review (it's been endorsed by all my pals) is infallible. Weather is not climate. Four legs good, two legs bad...
Now that the House of Commons and Lord Oxburgh have strutted their stuff, there remains a third whitewash - sorry, independent review - to come, conducted by Sir Muir Russell. This blog announces a competition. Readers are invited to submit selections of clichés, exculpatory phrases that they expect will occur in the third report. Those whose predictions come closest to the actual wording in the published document will be acclaimed here and will receive a magnum of champagne from James Delingpole (I made that last bit up). So, let's have your submissions, please.