Some years ago, Daniel Butler hosted a television show called “America’s Dumbest Criminals” (trailer), entry to which Peter Gleick richly deserves.
In an interview some years later, Butler said that his favorite story was the robbers who had apparently planned the perfect gas station robbery. They took the licence plates off their van, wore ski masks. When the police arrived, they asked the attendant the usual questions, but there were no clues. Just when the police were leaving, the attendant volunteered that they’d left their phone number. In the rear window of the van, there was a For Sale sign with a phone number. The attendant had written down the phone number as the van left. The police called the phone number, inquired about buying the van, went for a test drive with the robber and drove him to the station.
Jay Leno described another incident, where the would-be bank robber demanded $40 million (milllllll-yun?). The teller said that they didn’t have that much on hand and suggested that he accept a cheque for $400,000. The robber agreed and gave the teller his name. She wrote him the agreed cheque, payment on which was stopped by the bank. When the robber tried to deposit the cheque into his own account, he was arrested.
Two Aussies achieved minor celebrity as bungling bank robbers in Colorado. They wore ski masks and goggles when they robbed a ski resort, but also wore name tags. It took the cops a mere eight minutes to identify them.
In another incident, a Tennessee policeman stopped porn starlet Barbi Cummings on a traffic violation. She then provided him with sexual favors in the back seat of the police car. The policeman took pictures of the encounter on his cell phone. He then emailed Miss Cummings and asked her to post the picture on her website so that he could prove the encounter to his pals. Miss Cummings reported that she still had to pay the traffic ticket as the cop had already called in the offence.
All of these felons were dumb, but they were all convicted and served time.
The newest candidate for the hallowed ranks of America’s Dumbest Criminals is Peter Gleick, MacArthur Genius. Gleick, who fancied himself the scourge of climate skeptics and imagined that Heartland’s climate program was funded by fossil fuel corporations and the Koch brothers, has admitted that he managed to trick a Heartland administrator and obtain confidential financial information by impersonating a Heartland director, an act that appears to contain all the elements of fraud. But the actual documents didn’t show that Gleick was feared by Heartland. Nor was even he mentioned. Nor did the documents show that Heartland’s climate program was funded by fossil fuel corporations or the Koch brothers.
Gleick is alleged to have forged a document that places Gleick as Heartland’s nemesis, a document that resulted him in garnering the recognition and praise from Andy Revkin and others that he apparently desired.
The forged document read like an epistle from Dr Evil. (Megan McArdle of the Atlantic used the phrase “secret villain lair”). And like the famous scene where Dr Evil’s henchmen are dumbfounded by Dr Evil’s plan to extort a mere “milllll-yun” dollars for not destroying the world, one can picture the supposed Heartland henchmen in consternation at Dr Evil’s proposed Confidential Strategy against [long Dr Evil pause ....] Peter Gleiiiiiick. #2, #3 and the rest must have been scratching their heads. Not Al Gore. Not James Hansen. Not even the Climategaters. Peeeeeeeter Gleiiiiiiick.
And like Leno’s bank robber and the snowboarding Aussies, Gleick was identified almost immediately. Within hours of the so-called Confidential Strategy being announced as a fake, Steve Mosher proposed Gleick as its author. In addition to Gleick being painted into the picture, parts of the document were written in Gleick’s own distinctive style – with distinctive word choices and punctuation. With the scan even saved in Pacific time zone.
Gleick has thus far confessed only to obtaining actual documents through impersonation (though he has not yet been charged with wire fraud), but has claimed innocence on the forgery allegation. Some of this defenders claim that he was set up. By an evil genius who had put Gleick’s name in the forged document and written portions in Gleick’s distinctive style. Possibly by Dr Evil himself (who was unavailable for comment.)
Even if this part of Gleick’s impossible story were true (and the evidence against it is overwhelming), it would not prevent his entry into the hallowed halls of America’s Dumbest Criminals, in which he has surely garnered a place of particular honor. MacArthur Genius and America’s Dumbest Criminal.