In a shocking turn of events this past week, a conservatively minded would-be politician wound up in hot water for making some ignorant remarks.
It was actually a man named Bill Beardsley, who was appointed by Maine Gov. Paul LePage to be the state’s new acting education commissioner.
I was interested in this story for two reasons: One, though I love Oregon, I still think of Maine in many ways as my home state.
And, two, LePage is a conservative Republican, so of course Beardsley is a flaming science-denier who thinks biology lesson-planning should start and end with “magic.”
(Sigh. Does anyone remember a time when “conservative Republican politician” meant anything other than “insane”?)
In 2010 (when I was still a Mainer), LePage and Beardsley were among a crowded field of hopefuls vying for the Republican nomination for governor, and both answered a public debate question asking if they believe in “creationism” and think it should be taught in public schools.
Gov. LePage, articulate fellow that he is, replied, “I would say intelligence, uh, the more education you have the more knowledge you have the better person you are and I believe yes and yes,” which is not so much a sentence as it is the incoherent babbling of an alien robot trying to adapt to Earth hu-man speech while simultaneously suffering a stroke.
Beardsley, eager to avoid his then-rival’s mistake of attempting to string more than five words together at once, was more succinct: “I would teach creationism.” Well, all right then.
Now, after the Bangor Daily News broke this story a few days ago, Mainers decided they would prefer not to have a man who “would teach creationism” in public schools being given the means and opportunity to do exactly that, and the resulting backlash so discombobulated Beardsley that he broke the No. 1, cardinal rule of both young-earthism and conservative Republicanism: He changed his mind about something.
Yesterday, the Portland Press Herald reported that Beardsley had reversed himself, saying he does not support teaching creationism in public schools after all.
From the Press Herald:
On Monday, he said he doesn’t believe schools should teach creationism in science classes, and that he will not put forward any effort to change Maine’s current science standards to include creationism, the idea that the universe and life originated as a result of divine intervention.
“There’s a place for religion and a place for science,” Beardsley said. “Do I believe in science? Of course I believe in science. My mother was an astronomer. Am I a person of faith? Yes, I happen to be a person of faith.
“I keep my faith separate from my secular work,” he added.
OK, Bill. Other than the fact that this is, you know, the exact opposite of what you said five years ago when you were running for a much higher office, I suppose we have no reason to not believe you.
Left unaddressed by the Press Herald’s story was the small matter of the governor holding an identical view of the subject, albeit one that he expressed a lot more stupidly back in 2010.
Asked about his appointee’s abrupt 180 this week, Gov. LePage reportedly shrugged and said, “ERRM BLAARRGH EDUCATION GOOD FOR BOOKS KNOWLEDGE BEARDSLEY MAKE BETTER TIME. MORE PIE PLEEEEEZ.”
Then he napped for 14 hours.