THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY….Does the Bush administration ever get tired of trying to exert almost Stalinesque levels of control over the news cycle? Apparently not:

“Urgent: HQ Direction,” began a message e-mailed on April 1 to dozens of scientists and officials at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

It was not an alert about an incoming asteroid, a problem with the space station or a solar storm. It was a warning about a movie.

In “The Day After Tomorrow,” a $125 million disaster film set to open on May 28, global warming from accumulating smokestack and tailpipe gases disrupts warm ocean currents and sets off an instant ice age.

Few climate experts think such a prospect is likely, especially in the near future. But the prospect that moviegoers will be alarmed enough to blame the Bush administration for inattention to climate change has stirred alarm at the space agency, scientists there say.

“No one from NASA is to do interviews or otherwise comment on anything having to do with” the film, said the April 1 message, which was sent by Goddard’s top press officer. “Any news media wanting to discuss science fiction vs. science fact about climate change will need to seek comment from individuals or organizations not associated with NASA.”

Jeebus, guys, it’s….a….movie. Lighten up. NBC is planning to wreck Los Angeles and bring down the Space Needle in an upcoming earthquake extravaganza called 10.5, and my guess is that the poor schmoes at Caltech are going to get a lot of calls when it airs. Are you going to try and shut them up too out of fear that the populace will blame Bush for inattention to catastrophic earthquakes?

Crikey. If they spent as much time trying to solve actual problems as they did trying to spin the media, we’d be living in a golden age.

POSTSCRIPT: On the other hand, it sounds like it’s a really bad movie, even if it is amusing that “the vice president, who scoffs at warnings even as chaos erupts, resembles Dick Cheney.”