Please believe me, dear reader, I really do not want to write about Gov. Paul LePage anymore – ever. I’d much rather be writing this week about more interesting topics such as the joys of grandfatherhood or why car dealers appear in their own commercials, but every time the man opens his mouth in public he says something so outrageous that it cannot be ignored.

Last week, the governor’s bon mot was the “little beards” crack about bisphenol A (BPA). According to LePage, there is no science to suggest that BPA presents any health risks at all, despite the fact that Canada has banned it as a known toxic substance and many European countries have banned it from use in baby bottles.

“The only thing I’ve heard,” LePage said, “is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”

This is the same LePage who, back in January, complained to a Chamber of Commerce conference that he was having trouble finding women to work in his administration. Gee, I wonder why?

According to a 2009 Endocrine Society statement, endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA have an impact on “male and female reproduction, thyroid, metabolism and obesity.”

“In addition to this statement, several studies on endocrine-disrupting chemicals, particularly bisphenol A, were reported at the Endocrine Society’s 91st Annual Meeting. One study linked bisphenol A exposure in utero to epigenetic changes and altered developmental program. In another study, researchers reported low doses of bisphenol A promote arrythmogenesis and altered calcium handling in the heart.”

Mike Beliveau of the Maine-based Environmental Health Strategy Center said last week that LePage’s “little beards” statement “displays shocking ignorance for the science and a callous disregard for children’s health.” But then shocking ignorance and callous disregard are fast coming to define the LePage administration.

In 2008, the Maine Senate unanimously passed the Kid Safe Products Act and the Maine House of Representatives passed it 129-9. But Paul LePage has proposed repealing it, not because the science isn’t there (and he’d deny it even if it could proven to him that it was) but because attorney Patricia Aho, a lobbyist for the chemical industry who LePage just appointed deputy commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, wants it repealed. Ann Robinson, a pharmaceuticals industry lobbyist who served on LePage’s transition team, also reportedly pushed for repeal.

So, when you hear LePage utter his meaningless slogan, “People before politics,” you’d better understand that the “people” he is talking about are not you and me, our children and our grandchildren, they are his special-interest lobbyists buddies.

If ever there were a compelling argument for run-off elections in Maine, it is the shocking ignorance and callous disregard of Gov. Paul LePage.

Sidebar Elements

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Yarmouth. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

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