From the LA Times’ coverage of the Hansen case:

James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, took particular issue with the administration’s rule that a government information officer listen in on his interviews with reporters and its refusal to allow him to be interviewed by National Public Radio.

“This is the United States,” Hansen told the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee. “We do have freedom of speech here.”

But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) said it was reasonable for Hansen’s employer to ask him not to state views publicly that contradicted administration policy.

Of course, the most shocking suggestion here is that the Bush administration has a policy? Who knew!?

The suggestion that a senior scientist on the government payroll should not be able to talk openly about his scientific views because they might contradict administration policy is absurd. The dangerous theory here that Issa wants to sell is that the Government is a regular employer who should be able to determine what is said publicly by their “employees”. This theory fails to recognize that ALL Government employees and actually employees of the PEOPLE, paid for by THE PEOPLE, and their first (and only) duty is to fulfill their public responsibility, not to toe the line.

By the way, know where the term “toe the line” comes from?

According to the Grammar Tips site:

The phrase “toe the line” is equivalent to “toe the mark,” both of which mean to conform to a rule or a standard. The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002; ed. by Glynnis Chantrell) says, “The idiom toe the line from an athletics analogy originated in the early 19th century”.

The specific sport referred to is foot-racing, where the competitors must keep their feet behind a “line” or on a “mark” at the start of the race–as in “On your mark, get set,

So one who “toes the line” is one who does not allow his foot to stray over the line. In other words, one who does not stray beyond a rigidly defined boundary.