Never have I been so happy I no longer have young children.

And never have I felt more sympathy for those who do.

“Mommy,” little tykes all over Maine are asking right about now, “how come Governor LePage is talking about Vaseline?”

(Suggested response: “Because he’s a moron, dear. Now turn off the TV before he does it again.”)

Once again, weary Mainers, let’s go to the tape …

Late Thursday morning, in an apparent last-ditch attempt to derail Maine’s next two-year budget, LePage gathered with a small band of his tea party disciples to promise he’ll veto the $6.3 billion spending package.

No surprise there.

His remarks drew a quick response from Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, the assistant Senate majority leader. Observed Jackson, “I think (LePage) realizes we have the (Republican) votes to override him” on the budget veto.

Again, nothing you wouldn’t expect to hear as LePage and the Legislature hurtle toward their long-anticipated showdown next week.

Back to LePage.

“Senator Jackson claims to be for the people,” he told WMTW-TV reporter Paul Merrill. “But he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”

How easy it would be to take that snippet and run with it.

Like LePage’s other one-liners over the past few years — calling the IRS the “new Gestapo” … telling the NAACP to “kiss my butt”… promising to tell President Obama to “go to hell” — this one has to be worth at least a week of punch lines, right?

Wrong.

There’s simply nothing funny about Maine’s chief executive, on camera for the whole world to see, reducing a longtime legislator’s public service to a crude sexual metaphor.

Nor is there anything humorous about LePage’s loyal supporters undoubtedly celebrating this kind of bile as the hallmark of a man “who tells it like it is.”

And it’s nothing short of pathetic that Maine’s Republican Party — you know, the one that claims to stand for family values — lacks the common decency to denounce the ignoramus whose garbage mouth disgraces not just his party, but his entire state.

Even LePage knew he’d crossed the line this time. Moments after the Vaseline remark, he returned to the camera not to take responsibility for his own boorishness, but (as usual) to blame others for it.

“Dammit, that comment is not politically correct,” LePage told WMTW’s Merrill. “But we got to understand who this man (Jackson) is. This man is a bad person. He doesn’t only have no brains, he has a black heart.”

That would be the same Troy Jackson who last month fought back tears as he spoke on the Senate floor about two friends who had heart disease just as he did — only they died for lack of health insurance.

“It’s … embarrassment that I had health insurance and they didn’t,” Jackson told his hushed colleagues that day. “It’s embarrassment that I’m alive and they didn’t have that opportunity.”

That’s a “black heart,” Governor? And now that you’ve vetoed the Medicaid expansion for which Jackson was pleading, what’s inside your chest — a lump of pure Maine granite?

Amazingly, LePage wasn’t finished. After complaining that the Legislature’s leaders are “smoking the Maine people and the Maine people are buying it,” he went after Jackson, a logger by trade, one more time for good measure.

“People like Troy Jackson, they ought to go back in the woods and cut trees and let somebody with a brain come down here and do some work,” he snarled.

Remember that next time you head to the polls, proud Mainers who work in the woods. Your governor just said you lack the brains to do anything but cut trees.

I can hear the LePage apologists already. “It’s no big deal,” they’ll say. “The governor is a passionate man and his temper momentarily got the best of him.”

Oh, really? Then explain why, after reporter Merrill flat-out warned him the Vaseline remark “is going to offend some people,” LePage came back a third time to the microphone and replied, “Good! It ought to! Because I’ve been taking it for two years!”

Hear that, Mom? Hear that, Dad? Your governor thinks it’s “good” that he just forced you to explain to Junior what Vaseline has to do (or not) with the functioning of Maine’s state government.

And if that upsets you, LePage is fine with that too. In fact, he thinks you “ought to” be offended.

Thursday evening, as news of LePage’s latest — and by far greatest — roll through the gutter flashed on TV screens all over Maine, WCSH anchor Pat Callaghan felt compelled to preface the story during his 5:30 p.m. newscast with this warning:

“We’re about to put on screen what the governor said in response (to Jackson) and some of our viewers who may find it distasteful may want to hit the mute button and turn away for the next 20 seconds or so.”

Think about that, fellow citizens. Your local news is now warning, before reporting on what your governor said today in the normal conduct of his duties, that you might want to block your eyes and turn down the volume.

What’s next? A 10-second delay every time LePage opens his mouth lest the TV stations run afoul of the FCC?

The simple truth is that LePage is not and never will be the leader he purports to be.

He’s a thug, far more suited to the urban streets he once roamed than the halls of government he now disgraces.

He’s also a coward. Rather than even attempt to do the difficult job that a minority of Mainers elected him to do, he hides behind his ignorance and, when push comes to shove, shames his entire state with an off-the-cuff obscenity.

Not politically correct, Governor? How about, “I’m truly sorry. I forgot there are children out there who might hear me. Please accept my deepest apology.”

Then, for once in your life, shut up.

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

bnemitz@pressherald.com