A delegation of American politicians is in hot water after a $740,000 taxpayer-funded trip to Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and Hawaii.
The 10 members of Congress dived on the Great Barrier Reef, visited a Queensland rainforest, observed a penguin rookery at the South Pole, watched a New Year fireworks display in Christchurch and finished the trip on Hawaii's famous Waikiki Beach.
They flew on a specially-equipped US Air Force C-40 jet.
The 11-day mission was designed to study climate change, but the politicians are having to defend themselves after a Wall Street Journal article on the expedition triggered numerous stinging editorials and articles in other US media.
The politicians say the trip offered a wealth of valuable information about global warming.