The problem is that the debate is not a scientific one but a political one regarding science. I for one would not give a darn about this issue if it weren't for the threat it posed to our already degrading education system.
The only reason the US even stepped up its emphasis of science education to begin with was because of the threat from the USSR.
Now there is no percieved need for true science so the overriding philosophy that says we teach science as it is defined by scientists takes a back seat to lobbyists and special interests.
If we have any hope to keep the uninformed, lying, hypocritical, dogmatic, America-haters out of our public education system then we have to meet them where the battle is at. It just so happens that is battle is located in the political arena where the scientific method is just, "that thing you learned about in high school."
Just like a bunch of other crappy things that have happend in the US recently (i.e. Patriot Act, DMCA), government is doing thing against the will of the people because they can. The people who get close enough to the governments ear get a say. That is why we cannot be apathetic to the things that go on in our government. We need to make sure that the attention of the policy makers isn't always on the cranks and the crazies like it has been for way too long.
I don't really support such debates (although I ocassionally participate to ensure science isproperly portrayed) so I can't address (1) or (2), but I think I know the answer to (3).
Such 'public' debates, where any joe off the street can put in his/her 2 cents worth, is about the only kind of forum where religiously motivated criticism of science can be effectively flogged. This is an environment where it is easy to circumvent, avoid, or misrepresent evidence-based reasoning in ways that could never survive any rigorous form of peer review. They have to take the battle against science out of the scientific venues because they won't play by the rules and they can't possible flog their dogma there.