This is at least thought-provoking. Lamar Smith (R-Texas, chair of the US House science committee, famous for things like this) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA, about as far from Lamar Smith as I can imagine with the possible exception of Nancy Pelosi) are co-sponsoring a bill that would create a position called Scientist Laureate of the United States. This person would be appointed by the President following nomination by the National Academy of Sciences, and would be meant to act as an inspirational figure, making public appearances and furthering the cause of science. This could be a good thing, provided (1) an actual accomplished scientist is chosen, not someone who has to satisfy a political agenda; and (2) the person chosen is charismatic and able to use the bully pulpit effectively. The Science Laureate should do more than show up at middle schools - they should get major exposure (e.g., late night talk shows; hosting a science program on a major network with actual resources to make it good; having the ear of Congress, perhaps even the limited ability to insist on speaking at a hearing of the House or Senate science-related committees). (Halftime at the Superbowl is probably out of line.)
While I applaud scientists with great public outreach track records (Neil deGrasse Tyson just spoke at our commencement), that should not be the sole criterion. If this passes, hopefully Congress will keep in the bit about the NAS making the choice. Suggestions are invited in the comments.