Bill Engvall's comedy routine about dumb people is one of The Observer's favorites. For example: He pulls into a gas station with a flat tire and the attendant asks, "Flat tire?" No, Engvall says, the other three just suddenly swelled up. So what Engvall would suggest is that stupid people wear a sign saying they're stupid. Then he gives more examples of stupidity, all followed by what he'd say to those folks: "Here's your sign."
Lately, a lot of Republicans, in and out of Arkansas, have been going around without their signs.
Idaho Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri could have been part of Engvall's routine. Back in February, while speaking in favor of an anti-abortion bill during a legislative hearing, Barbieri asked a doctor if a woman could swallow a camera so her physician could remotely check on the progress of her pregnancy. Here's a man with three children who thinks what goes in the mouth comes out the vagina. Here's your sign, Mr. Barbieri. And you can relax now about that, er, oral intimacy, with your wife.
Then there are some Arkansas Republicans. Their impaired thinking is less funny, since what they've put into law could actually threaten a woman's health. Like the new laws on medical abortion. One requires doctors to ignore evidence accumulated by doctors over many years and prescribe the abortive medicine at a dosage much higher than was originally thought necessary. Lower dosage, safer medicine — that's how it works, Rep. Lanny Fite. Why is the law written like that? Who knows? Surely it's not that lawmakers think it's OK to overdose women? Mr. Fite, here's your sign.
Stupider than Fite's contribution to how things are done in Arkansas: Our new law that requires the state Health Department, despite the fact that it is supposed to be a source of credible information on health care, to advise women that they can reverse a medical abortion. This is utterly without research to back it up, and again, perhaps dangerous. Rep. Robin Lundstrum, stick to selling real estate. Sen. Jim Hendren, stick with plastics. Otherwise, here are your signs.
Now comes Texas Republican Rep. Matt Schaefer of Tyler. He's offered an amendment to a Texas bill to outlaw abortion after 20 weeks that would require a woman to carry a fetus even if it "has a severe and irreversible abnormality." When asked why he might require such a terrible — and possibly fatal to the mother — law, he said suffering is "part of the human condition, since sin entered the world." Wait till Arkansas legislators hear this one! Schaefer still hasn't forgiven Eve. It was her fault. Hey, Rep. Shaefer: Here's your sign, and it says I'm stupid and I'm mean.
What is happening here? Is it a lack of sex education? (Or, in the case of Barbieri, basic anatomy?) Former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin: In the case of "legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that thing down." Republican donor Foster Friess: "Back in my day we used Bayer aspirin for contraception, the gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly." Conservative commentator Dana Loesch, who said women shouldn't object to forced transvaginal ultrasounds since the sex they had that produced their unwanted pregnancy was "similar." Rush Limbaugh, calling a reproductive rights activist a "slut."
And our own Mike Huckabee, candidate for president, who said rape shouldn't be reason for abortion since the child conceived after rape might be "extraordinary."
Here's your sign, Mike! Add it to your other ones, the ones you earned when you said that women who use birth control "cannot control their libidos"! That America had aborted more than a million people that could have been in the workforce!
And that stuff about gay people, Mike. Really. They won't be satisfied until they've stamped out Christianity? That "homosexuality and pedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia" are "publicly endorsed ... aberrations"? What world are you living in?
We're starting the press, now that you're on the campaign trail. More signs to come!