Two recent articles by conservatives criticize Intelligent Design, one by George Will and one by Charles Krauthammer.
In a nutshell, Will and Krauthammer are extending a plea to the religious zealot wing of the Republican party: "Hey guys, could you please shut up about the intelligent design thing? You're hurting us and making us look dumb."
My opinion? It's not so much a problem with a small fringe group as it is with the way that the Republican party has intentionally chosen to structure themselves. You have the economic nerd wing of the Republican party, such as Will and Krauthammer, as well as probably guys like Rumsfeld and Cheney. Smart guys with a political philosophy that can be summed up as "screw the poor."
Then you have the religious zealots, who are intent on demolishing the rift between church and state -- many of whom ARE poor.
The economic nerds are the guys who aspire to power, and are smart enough to get it. But to do that, they need to get a majority of voters on their side, and they fill out their base by pandering to the zealot wing. These are people who probably wouldn't vote Republican if it weren't for the lip service they received to their agenda (i.e., overturn Roe v Wade, stop them uppity queers, and teach kids their religion in disguise as ID). I'm not saying they would vote for Democrats if these things were not on the table, but in all probability many of them simply wouldn't vote.
So those like Will and Krauthammer have a real problem. Their financial ideas (like supply-side economics, which is essentially the economist's version of creationism) have gained some measure of perceived respectability, but they simply aren't popular enough to win elections on their own without the support of the religious right. But then the religious right goes around making themselves highly visible and making the nerd wing look ridiculous.
Part of me wants to cheer for the Republicans who are now telling creationists to go jump in a lake. Then there's another part of me that says that their image problems are of their own making, so let's grab some popcorn and enjoy the fallout.