Tensions between the United States government and state governments increased during the Bush Administration, 2001-2008. Blame was typically placed on the Administration s conservative policy preferences. This article analyzes how the issue of stem cell research was managed during those years in Washington, DC and how the states responded. The case highlights contradictions in the Bush Administration s brand of conservatism, how this promoted interstate competition, and why state governments had to wrestle with major policy dilemmas. Concerns surrounding moral principles, scientific progress, and economic competitiveness produced a patchwork of state funding and regulatory regimes. That outcome has not been ideal from several perspectives. Advances in biotechnology and other controversial areas of science will force future national and state governments to confront similar policymaking challenges.