American politics is a nightmare version of American Idol: It's full of desperately unqualified people who won popularity contests, and they can ruin your life, even if you don't watch them. Especially then, in fact. Especially squared when they're on science-related committees. Bipartisan politics is the evil opposite of science, changing facts to fit preformed opinions. We'd be better off with Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robots, because at least they're honest about fighting just because the other is red or blue, have something to do with technology and admit when they're beaten.
And C-SPAN would single-handedly save television.
I'm not going to mention party affiliation below, because mentioning that is to science what mentioning your collection of unwashed children's clothing is to joining the police: way past irrelevant and into evidence that you're the kind of problem they're meant to be fixing. I won't be calling these guys "representative," either, because the only things they represent is how maybe science and energy committees should be staffed by people born after lead paint became illegal for use in children's bedrooms.
Committee on Science, Space and Technology
Todd Akin looks like a race of goblins grew a hybrid in a glass tank to infiltrate humanity, but he knows less about the female reproductive system.
Asked about abortion in the case of pregnancies resulting from rape on the Jaco Report, Akin explained:
"First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
No one has had a worse understanding of female biology since they stopped inventing ancient Greek monsters. He lazily missed every important point about female genitals while vaguely gesturing with his hands, causing his wife to orgasm as she realized that that was this year's foreplay allowance ... which doesn't change the fact that he called every woman made pregnant by rape a lying slut who really wanted it. The last shot of that interview should have been the camera being knocked aside as the entire production crew descended on him.
The Jaco Report
Instead, Jaco tried really hard to remember what interviewers are meant to do again.
In the aftermath, Akin went into the most default political safe mode ever, claiming that he'd "misspoken" and immediately and repeatedly invoking 9/11. If that was him misspeaking, a real glimpse into his beliefs would be his skull unfurling to release the stinking cloud of a million spermflies -- equally disgusting and sexually impossible, and resulting in just as many unwanted pregnancies from horrific events. The reality was even worse. His "apology" explained that he meant "forcible" instead of "legitimate"; i.e., he repeated his original claim that pregnancy meant that she was asking for it. If forcible rape didn't result in pregnancy, 0.25 percent of the human race wouldn't be descended from Gengis Khan. Who, by this point, was a more popular political character than Todd Akin.
Wikimedia Commons, BrÃ¼cke-Osteuropa
Imagine what would have to happen in the future for Akin to get a statue like this. Stop crying.
But back to the original interview: A woman has been raped, what happens next?
"I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."
Behold! In addition to her other superpowers, the woman has become invisible! Akin acknowledges the rapist and the rapejuice, and as far as he's concerned, that's everyone important dealt with. In his mind, rape is an aggressive form of littering. He then immediately invokes the fallacy that a tissue's worth of rapist semen is immediately an entire human being. To Akin, the woman just lost the non-no-contact version of tag and should accept the consequences of internal gonads somewhere he doesn't have to think about it.
Committee of Science, Space and Technology
Paul Broun is 66, in keeping with the governmental policy of staffing technology committees with people who refer to Betamax as newfangled. He spoke at the Liberty Church Killing-Things-With-Guns Banquet, and that's got to be the Konami Code of keywords to shut down your critical thinking processes right there.(Specific church denomination removed as an unnecessary distraction. And they prefer to call themselves "sportsmen," but sportsmen compete against each other, not against dumb animals.)
We swear we didn't Photoshop this. It's from the church banquet website, where they're apparently trying to construct a taxidermied ark.
The entire talk is available on their website, or you can see the relevant comments in this video:
He said that "evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell." It seems strange to call evolution a lie while standing in front of an honest attempt to shoot everything resulting from it. Either that, or his Liberty Sportsmen are trying to exterminate all the evidence. Not liking the Big Bang Theory made him sound like a real scientist for a second, until you realize that he's talking about the actual cosmological theory, not the collection of one-dimensional insults that are what a sitcom writer thinks a nerd is. Later he mentions:
"... there are a lot of scientific data that I've found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don't believe that the Earth's but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them."
Considering that he was trained "as a scientist," as a chemist and as a medical doctor, either he's been sniffing his own samples, or he got advice from Todd Akin about where to put a Pap smear and ended up exploring a deep dark cavern with a musty map reading "Here there be dragons."
"Appease the beast of menstruation with simple offerings."
Hating the idea of an old Earth and evolution is simple religious jealousy: Dinosaurs don't even need belief, and if they did, everyone would still choose Tyrannosaurus rexes over an invisible beard frowning at your masturbation.
But he doesn't believe in embryology? Embryos are everywhere! There has literally been one embryo for every man, woman and child on the planet. Does he think that ultrasounds are puppet shows put on by extremely disturbed doctors? Do pregnant women swell because they're inflating a bladder of stork-attracting pheromones?
"This will be a good place to nest, hiding my shame from the menfolk."
Chair Emeritus of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health, Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Subcommittee on Environment and Economy
In proof that he was awarded every position he ever held on Opposite Day, Joe Barton was on the above committees when he apologized to BP for the whole Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
"Next, I'd like to apologize to any terrorists who felt upstaged by what BP managed."
When people pointed out that this was the exact opposite of his job, he replied, "If anything I said this morning has been misconstrued to the opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstrued misconstruction." He's just a dictionary jammed in a dialysis machine, taking the piss out of the idea of communication. It's a tactic he continued at a hearing on renewable power:
"Wind is God's way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it's hotter to areas where it's cooler. That's what wind is. Wouldn't it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up?"
We're just going to use this image to buy our brains a second to recover from that.
Even by its own non-logic, that is dementedly wrong. His claim that wind energy is finite forgets about the sun, and when your arguments miss something that even cavemen included in their daily plans, maybe you shouldn't be in charge of decision making. Wind doesn't operate on a bus schedule, carrying heat from one place to another. Even if you could constantly suck energy out of the system, the temperature would drop. Finally, if eco-power can defeat your god's plans, maybe a deity who can be defeated by Captain Planet isn't one you should be worshiping. Maybe try a pity prayer some Friday night if Zeus isn't answering the phone.
"Sorry, baby, I was off being a swan for Leda, she loves that kinky stuff."
It's not an argument; it's a logical denial of service attack, flooding any functioning brain with so many objections that their time is wasted and they can't do anything. Which is, of course, Barton's entire function at hearings. His very next words were:
"Now, I'm not saying that's going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can't transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It's just something to think about."
Translation: "I know I'm bullshitting, exploiting the flaws in both democratic process and scientific discussion, which lets me keep talking until this hearing ends and nothing gets done." At this point, I'd explain how he was a consultant for a major oil company before ever becoming a politician, and has received over a million dollars in oil money since, if I thought it would remotely surprise anyone.
Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Subcommittee on Environment and Economy
If your speech to the government describes the death of almost every living thing on the planet, twice, you're meant to have entered through the hole you just lasered in the roof with your flying Doom Tank. You shouldn't be on the House Subcommittee on Environment and Economy. John Shimkus talked about a genocide he believes has already happened, another that absolutely will happen and how we should obey the will of the madman responsible for both. Every other government faced with this situation has deployed James Bond. Shimkus instead described how the final death of the world meant that we shouldn't worry about the environment.
If you didn't watch that, and are therefore still reading instead of running directly at Washington to scream "What the hell?" at the House, during his talk on global warming, he starts reading from the Bible, part of Genesis 8:21:
"Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done."
Then he goes on to:
"The Earth will only end when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth, this Earth will not be destroyed by a flood."
That's his way of dismissing climate change.
In a government hearing, there is no legal or technical difference between reading from the Bible and reading your G.I. Joe fan fiction, except that the latter is actually in favor of spending money on cool new technologies. If we've got Bible readings in House committees, we should also have the "Havamal" (Odin can kick the ass of any other god), The Golden Verses of Pythagoras (who at least knew something about science) and the Amduat (because, honestly, Washington could use more pyramids).
And given the average age of our lawmakers, it would be more fitting.
Shimkus left out the start of Genesis 8:21, which reads "The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart, Never again will I MURDER EVERYTHING etc. etc." That "aroma" was the burnt offering on an altar Noah had constructed immediately after landing the Ark. Which means that he had to sacrifice and immolate one of the animals he was carrying just to get his god's attention, and since there were only two of each, that means an entire species was wiped out. Shimkus can't even get through his own Bible without extinctifying something.
Maybe a guy responsible for the environment shouldn't believe that nature is indestructible. That's like hiring Superman as a crash test dummy. Except then we'd have someone who'd be able to stop a giant invisible being in the sky who's decided to kill everyone on the planet.
Luke also watches Resident Evil: Damnation, a movie fans of the game will actually like, and Buzz Aldrin punching out an idiot. (It's the second best landing his fist has been involved in.)
For more madmen of science, check out The 6 Most Badass Stunts Ever Pulled in the Name of Science and 7 Ridiculous Things People Believe About the "God Particle."