Actively Trying To Make Maine Dumber, Republican Gov. Appoints Creationist Education Commissioner

Perhaps recognizing that his job security rests on keeping voters as ignorant as possible, embattled Republican Governor Paul LePage just put his close friend and well-known anti-science crusader, Bill Beardsley, in charge of the state’s education system.

In a move that should shock a society that values education, science, and reality, LePage announced the appointment of Beardsley as “acting education commissioner.” Beardsley is not a fan of the types of things that might equip the young minds in Maine with the tools needed to prosper in the 21st Century. In 2010, Beardsley was LePage’s competitor in the gubernatorial race, and ran on the idea that creationism, and creationism alone, should be taught in school. Voters didn’t seem thrilled at his draconian education plans. He lost the race (to LePage), but now he gets to see his plans implemented anyway.

Beardsley also manages to be openly hostile towards the existence of climate change. During the same 2010 debate which saw him call the teaching creationism in schools, Beardsley stated without evidence that worrying about climate change was a fools errand.

“I believe we should be focusing on our economy rather than chasing after issues that haven’t been proven in science.”

97 percent of climate scientists disagree.

For even casual observers of Maine politics, the appointment of such a backwards-thinking individual to head the state’s education system comes as no surprise. Maine’s state government under Tea Party darling Paul LePage can be charitably described as an absolute shit-show. LePage spends almost all of his time fending off the ever-looming threat of impeachment for his increasingly bizarre actions.

As one politician put it, he’s coming “unglued.” He recently announced that unless Maine’s Democrats allow him to pass anything he wants without complaint, he would quite literally veto every bill that comes to his desk regardless of its content.

“The Maine people deserve to have a say on the income tax and until they lift it, that’s my leverage,” LePage said during a wide-ranging and spirited news conference at the Blaine House. “And yes, is that politics? I’m playing their game. I’m finally learning to play the game of the politician.”

His public outbursts (he once screamed in a colleague’s face that he and his fellow Democrats are “repugnant” during a meeting) have reached the point where even his own party seems worried about his mental health.

“There are members of the Legislature that have stood beside Gov. LePage through thick and thin that are saying that they are done with him. That’s something that I’ve never heard before,” said Lance Dutson, a Republican strategist who worked on several high-profile political campaigns, including those of Maine Sen. Susan Collins and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

Instead of changing his ways, or perhaps getting some anger management counseling, LePage has surrounded himself with his friends and won’t work with anyone else. Beardsley is just the latest pal of LePage to get a cushy government position based on his relationship with the governor and not, say, on actually being a good fit for the job. His entire administration is littered with LePage friends.

Maine’s public schools are now under the dominion of a man who believes science to be a liberal-based fiction. Making matters worse, because he is just “acting” commissioner, this appointment cannot be challenged by the state for six months. Only after LePage decides to give Beardsley the full-time job can the state’s Board of Education reject the appointment. A lot of damage can happen in six months with a LePage crony at the helm.

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