By Brad Friedman on 7/2/2014, 6:05am PT  

We've long regarded Maine's Republican Gov. Paul LePage as giving Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer a run for her money as the dumbest Governor in the nation, if not the dumbest in history.

But it appears that LePage has been making a real run for that latter title all along.

As early as 2011, we took notice just after LePage took office and immediately ordered the removal of a mural from the state's Dept. of Labor because it was too pro-uniony, or something. That and other "Tea Party"-ish behavior by the then new Governor resulted in a bunch of state Senators from his own party asking him, publicly, to tone it down a bit. "Were these isolated incidents, we would bite our collective tongues," the Republican lawmakers wrote in an op-ed at the time. "But, unfortunately, they are not isolated but frequent. Therefore, we feel we must speak out."

But that was just a taste for what was to come and what's been revealed about him this week...

You may also recall late last year when we highlighted the brain trust that is LePage as he was actually celebrating the melting Arctic, on the premise that it opened up the Northern Passage as a shipping lane for Maine --- despite the fact that global warming, in addition to threatening the entirety of human civilization in the not too distant future, is already posing more immediate dangers to Maine's maple syrup and shrimping industries, among others.

"Everybody looks at the negative effects of global warming, but with the ice melting, the Northern Passage has opened up," LePage explained, according to the Bangor Daily News at the time. "So maybe, instead of being at the end of the pipeline, we're now at the beginning of a new pipeline."

But our biggest clue about the guy, who is now running for re-election, probably should have come after his April 2013 claim that a new wind turbine at a Maine university --- one that had produced some 680,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean electricity in its first year (saving the school about $100,000, not to mention the reduction of dangerous CO2 output) --- actually had "a little electric motor that turns the blades."

"I’m serious," the Governor insisted during his remarks to the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce that month. "They have an electric motor so they can show people that wind power works. Unbelievable."

Well, now we may have an explanation --- of sorts --- for LePage's storied idiocy...or, at least his proud public display of same. According to the first chapter of journalist Mike Tipping's forthcoming book, As Maine Went: Governor Paul LePage and the Tea Party Takeover of Maine, until his own staff finally had to step in to put a stop to it, LePage had been meeting about once a month --- reportedly for several hours each time --- with a group of Rightwing "Sovereign Citizen" extremists and taking great interest, and even action, on their remarkable theories, legal and conspiratorial and otherwise.

While the Governor, according to Tipping, "was later forced to recant his accusation" about the wind turbine, "after his remarks made national news...He did not reveal the source of the false conspiracy theory." Tipping does so. On that relatively innocent, if highly illustrative, windmill conspiracy and much more that is far less innocent.

You've got to read the amazing full chapter, as published at Talking Points Memo this week, to fully appreciate the madness in play here, particularly for a public official of LePage's high office. But this follow-up article, reported by the Portland Press Herald in response to the piece, proves to be a pretty good teaser for it:

[LePage's press secretary, Adrienne] Bennett did not address why LePage met with the group eight times, why a county sheriff was asked to look into their demands or why the governor's legal staff was asked to draft an opinion of the group's claims that Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, and House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, should be arrested and executed.

Yes. It's that insane and more so. Tipping's piece is a detailed and extraordinary read, but well worth bookmarking for the long holiday weekend along and a nice tall pitcher of lemonade iced tea.

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