Seizing a mandate where none exists, the Bush administration is quickly reasserting sweeping plans to rewrite fundamental health, environment and conservation standards to favor large oil, energy and other polluting industries -- an agenda that has been stalled due to bipartisan objections in Congress, and strong public resistance whenever the policies have faced even modest scrutiny.

"The election is behind us," President Bush's EPA administrator, Mike Leavitt, has told reporters. "We now have a clear agenda, one that's been validated and empowered by the people of this country."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The 2004 Presidential election may have been a referendum on many things, but not the environment. Where voters did have a chance to vote up or down on environmental issues they did so by solid majorities, even in "red states" like Montana and Colorado, which passed a landmark renewable energy standard and sent two pro-environment ranchers named Salazar to Congress.

And when asked to rate their trust in the two major candidates in general in a late-October Newsweek poll by Princeton Survey Research, Bush trailed Kerry by 24 percentage points, the biggest gap of any issue in the poll, including Iraq, gay marriage, abortion, and stem cell research.