For anyone interested in the US presidential candidates' positions on science, I recommend this NPR piece from today's "All Things Considered". What I find most revealing is near the end. Obama supports the goals of the America COMPETES act, which (among other things) was intended to double support for basic science research over the next several years. McCain does not consider science research to be as high a priority, given fiscal constraints. Bear in mind that as a percentage of GDP the US spending on physical science research has been falling for decades, and we've also witnessed the near-death of industrial long-term research in the sciences. I'm not trying to start a political flamewar here - I just wanted to point people to this information.
Update: From the Department of the Obvious, this article from USA Today about general science literacy and cultural perception in the US. How depressing. 44% of those surveyed couldn't name a single scientist, living or dead, that could be a role model for young people. Wow.