LePage pulls a Porky’s

Remember that scene from the movie Porky’s in the boy’s locker room? There’s the one kid who hates Jews, just hates them. So after gym or practice, he starts calling the one Jew in the group a “kite”. Naturally, the high flying kid made of light material attached to a string says, “It’s kike, not kite. You aren’t even smart enough to be a good bigot.” It’s the one funny line in an otherwise ugly scene of ignorance.

So that brings me to Maine governor Paul LePage (R):

In his comments last week, LePage said he has yet to see enough science to support a ban on BPA, a common additive to plastics that some research suggests may interfere with hormone levels and could cause long-term problems. LePage said until scientists can prove BPA is harmful, the state should not rush to restrict its use.

“Quite frankly, the science that I’m looking at says there is no [problem],” LePage said. “There hasn’t been any science that identifies that there is a problem.”

LePage then added: “The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”

This is such a huge facepalm. I mean, wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Not only is LePage overtly ignoring the huge mass of evidence on the dangers of BPA, but he’s also making moronic claims about estrogen and what it does. The guy doesn’t know a damn thing about science. We should never listen to this guy on these sort of issues (or, really, any other issue). He’s as ignorant about science as the character in Porky’s was about Jews; a bigot to science, if you will.

So let’s summarize what we know about LePage so far: he believes the NAACP is a special interest but anti-abortion groups aren’t, he thinks it’s okay to teach creationism in schools, he wants to tell Obama to “go to hell”, he and his wife purchased a home in Florida so they could save money on tuition for their kids and then they lied about it, he thinks BPA is just a fine chemical, and he believes estrogen grows male traits.


12 Responses

  1. I admit the estrogen part is silly, but as for BPA being dangerous – he cites the WHO and FDA. The article you cite quotes activist groups for the anti-BPA science. Why do you take their word over the others – the ones I see as the proper scientific channels.

  2. I’m not merely listening to a few people who were quoted in that article. I’m listening to the whole rest of the scientific community that agrees that BPA poses a risk. We can avoid that risk by just banning the chemical all together. It isn’t like we need it; LePage is just listening to big business, as usual. I warned that he would be anti-science.

  3. Yawn. Another jab at big business. I forget, are those the people that fund a tremendous amount of scientific studies, typically to improve their products and create new ones?

    How evil of them. These nefarious, and always ill defined, big business types should be closed down!

    All that publicly funded research must be purer right?

  4. I read PZ’s piece, it really doesn’t address the risk management issue that the FDA and WHO brought up. The research is not in yet, and the cost of banning BPA does not justify banning it. Those are real costs that can not be ignored.

  5. BPA comes with a huge number of verified risks. That’s just the science of the matter. There isn’t some big anti-business conspiracy going on here; plenty of businesses have stopped buying the toxic junk and they’re doing just fine. The problem is that it poses some known health risks and other potential risks, especially in children. Since it is an entirely unnecessary chemical to have in most of our consumer products, there is no reason not to ban it.

    Unless we elect anti-science people like LePage, of course. Then by all means, to hell with science and facts and that pesky stuff.

  6. I don’t think you’ve got a good grasp of the science here. The world isn’t so simple to provide us with good chemicals and bad chemicals. Sometimes its good to use chemicals that are ever-so-slightly toxic

    This is no different from the anti-Thimerosal campaign. Infact, the message is coming from some of the same activists.

    The two “scientific” groups quoted in the article are eco-activists. They are not on par with the FDA and WHO, so why are you taking their side?

    The National Toxicology Program is probably your best bet if you want to find any real scientific opposition, and it is pretty mild. That’s because in the worse-case scenario, BPA exposure levels are far below toxicity and concern.


    Again, you are rejecting the advice of the FDA and the WHO who spent a lot of time looking into this. Can’t you accept that Paul LePage said something silly while being on the right side of an issue?

  7. I don’t think you’ve got a good grasp of the science here.

    I would be insulted if I didn’t literally laugh out loud.

    The quote professor and MERI aren’t disreputable because you want to magically label them “eco-activists”. It’s this sort of stuff that makes me point out that business conflicts with science.

    LePage isn’t on the right side of, well, any issue. His motivation is purely business; he has no concern running any science through the mud. I mean, for Christ’s sake, he acknowledged that BPA can release a chemical which is associated with all sorts of health issues, including cancer, when it is in high quantities. I doubt his knowledge goes beyond the word “chemical” in that sentence, but that’s what we get for electing a guy who seems to actually hate science.

    As for the FDA and WHO, they both acknowledge the health risks associated with this unnecessary chemical. The fact is, if this wasn’t a chemical used by big business but we still had the exact same science telling us how bad it is, it would be gone in a second.

  8. You’re right, the achknowledged they exist as they rejected banning them. I don’t know how to make this more clear – public health is not a simple task of figuring out what chemicals are harmful – it is a process of risk and reward and useful chemicals with ultra low levels of toxicity are acceptable.

    Does it really matter that there are businesses associated with food production? I’m unaware of any profit connection with LePage and out of state cannaries. I think your business references are red herrings.

  9. LA Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/11/news/la-heb-who-bpa-20101111

    “An expert panel convened last week by the World Health Organization recommended that public health officials hold off on regulations limiting or banning the use of bisphenol A.

    “BPA, as it’s commonly known, is used widely in plastic food receptacles and in the linings of cans. BPA that has seeped into food is the primary source of BPA exposure, the WHO panel reported. Scientists at the meeting determined that smaller amounts of the chemical lurk in house dust, soil, toys, dental treatments and thermal cash register receipts. They said that models of the way BPA circulates through the body showed that BPA is quickly eliminated through urine and does not accumulate in the body.”

  10. Read the rest of the report.

  11. Oh spare me, not another one. BPA is harmful in the same way cell phone radiation is harmful. It’s an extremely useful clue – if the speaker is paranoid about BPA you know only one thing: they don’t know much chemistry or science. If they also start going on about how wonderful organic food is, you might as well stop talking to them – they’re too far gone.

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