Dear Paul LePage,

Honest to God, I never dreamed I’d be writing you again so soon.

I thought that by now you’d be dialing down the temper, inserting a fact-checker somewhere between your brain and your mouth and otherwise persuading all those undecided voters out there that the real Paul LePage bears no resemblance whatsoever to that creepy uncle none of us likes to talk about.

I thought, with Election Day now just over four weeks away, that you’d be protecting your double-digit lead by shelving the tough-guy act and instead getting all gubernatorial on us.

I thought wrong.

Truth be told, Mr. LePage, I didn’t believe it at first when I opened my inbox Wednesday morning to find a press release from the Maine Democratic Party titled: “LePage to Obama: Go to Hell.”

I figured the Dems were playing fast and loose with the quotation marks. I figured there was no way a candidate for Maine’s highest elective office could be so tone deaf that he would publicly say such a thing to any president of the United States, be it Barack Obama, George W. Bush or even Richard “I Am Not a Crook” Nixon.

But then I went, once again, to the video. And sure enough, there you were Sunday at a campaign stop in Brooksville, answering a long, complicated question about Maine’s lobster fishery with this gem:

“As your governor, you’re going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying, ‘Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.’ “

Your audience, not surprisingly, loved it. And as you basked in their applause, I swear you looked less like a candidate for governor and more like a bouncer at the Bob Inn in Waterville who just tossed a couple of liberals out on their keisters because they complained their Pinot Grigio was too warm.

But here’s the problem, Mr. LePage — at least for you.

According to our latest edition of The Maine Poll, you’ve tanked by a whopping nine percentage points in just the past two weeks.

While 38 percent of the likely voters polled said you were their guy back on Sept. 13, only 29 percent said so early this week.

At the same time, your 13-point lead over Democrat Libby Mitchell vanished. In fact, the latest numbers actually have you trailing her by 1 percent.

My bet is that your widely viewed temper tantrum over your wife’s Maine-to-Florida property tax problems had a lot to do with the nosedive.

(Or maybe it was your use of the “BS” word in response to a question from a female reporter the same day. Or maybe it was the web of lies in which you entangled yourself as you tried to blame the whole thing on those nasty reporters who keep asking you all those anything-but-scripted questions.)

Whatever it was, here we go again. The ink was barely dry on another set of polling data Wednesday and, right smack in the middle of the same news cycle, we had a top-of-the-fold story about you telling the president to “go to hell.”

Now I know you’re a big Second Amendment supporter, so you don’t need me to remind you that whenever you shoot from the hip, it’s a good idea to first take the gun out of the holster.

And with 84 percent of your remaining supporters now telling our pollsters that they’re sticking with you come hell or high negatives, I’m guessing that nothing you say or do from here on will drive your numbers significantly lower.

But this “go to hell” thing, with a whopping 26 percent of the electorate now calling themselves “undecided,” was just plain dumb. As much as your ever-loyal, mad-as-hell base might love it, you’re scaring the heck out of a growing number of Maine voters who consider that kind of talk, regardless of who’s president, an insult on oh-so-many levels.

It’s an insult to parents of every political stripe who forbid their kids from saying “go to hell” to anyone, let alone a president.

(I can hear Junior now: “But Mommy, if that guy with the scary voice who’s running for governor can tell President Obama to go to hell, why can’t I say it to my teacher?”)

It’s an insult to the entire state now that this latest video, just like the one of your temper tantrum, has gone viral and left the rest of the country convinced that all of Maine is as crude, rude and unglued as you are.

Last but by no means least, it’s an insult to our headline writers.

“Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell” may strike you as catchy, but I guarantee our crack copy desk would come up with something more metaphorical (“LePage Drops 100th H-bomb on White House”) or civil (“LePage Urges Obama to Consider Eternal Damnation”) or maybe even Reagan-esque (“There He Goes Again!”)

Now, I’m not saying you’re unaware of your flaws. You wasted no time sort-of-but-not-really apologizing for the whole “go to hell” thing.

Problem is, while admitting you may have chosen the wrong words for President Obama, you appeared anything but contrite with your next-breath insistence that he’s “taking us to a place where my children and grandchildren will never come back.”

(A place like … Florida?)

Half-baked apologies aside, Mr. LePage, a lot of people — particularly those high-value fence-sitters — are coming fast to the conclusion that you are one dangerous dude. Or, as independent Eliot Cutler so aptly put it this week, your “crude bullying” is not “what the people of Maine want in a governor.”

It’s also clear, as this campaign heads into the home stretch, that you’re either unwilling or unable to clean up your act. Witness yet another video now climbing the online hit parade in which you say you’re “about ready to punch (Maine Public Broadcasting Network reporter) A.J. Higgins.”

I just got off the phone with Higgins, who assures me he’ll survive.

You, on the other hand, appear well on your way to what might be one of the most colossal collapses in recent Maine political history. What’s worse, should you find yourself among the also-rans come Nov. 3, we won’t need any political scientists to explain what happened to the high-flying LePage for Governor campaign.

Thanks to you — and I mean that from the bottom of my heart — the whole thing’s going to hell.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

[email protected]