President Bush may have unwittingly done the stem cell research community a big favor in 2001 when he outlawed federal funding for all but a very limited category of work in the field.

For all that scientists bemoan Bush's ideologically inspired hobbling of a highly promising biomedical discipline, stem cell research has since acquired a gratifyingly high profile. Nancy Reagan and Ron Reagan Jr., believing that the new science might alleviate the Alzheimer's disease that afflicted Ronald Reagan in his last years, have urged Bush to reverse himself. Sen. John F. Kerry also has supported lifting the restrictions.

And now, here comes Proposition 71.

Scheduled for November's state ballot, Proposition 71 calls for a $3-billion bond to finance stem cell research in California. The initiative has been endorsed by business lobbies, medical associations and political leaders (mostly Democrats) who see California becoming the world's stem cell capital, with all that means in new business, employment and prestige.

"There's the possibility of putting California in the front ranks of biotechnology," says Treasurer Phil Angelides, who with Controller Steve Westly is the...