Friday, February 15, 2013

Mitch McConnell's a stoner now?

"And so, I'd like to thank my colleagues from Oregon for... uh, what now? Wow! Have you ever noticed how blue the carpet is on the Senate floor? Say! Does anybody have any Cheetos? Nothing satisfies like Cheetos!"
I caught this little snippet in the Daily Beast and just about lost my cookies!

Kudos, first of all, to my two senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, who are sponsoring legislation to allow industrial production of hemp at a federal level. This legislation would allow farmers to legally cultivate industrial hemp without fear of federal prosecution. (Oregon farmers can grow hemp without violating any state laws, but the legislation proposed by Wyden and Merkley (my favorite senator) would remove the federal penalties for doing so.)

What blew my mind was that Senate Minority Leader (and arch-Republican) Mitch McConnell has signed on as a cosponsor of the bill!

Why? Because hemp is a species of Demon Weed! Ganja! Marijuana!

Currently the federal government considers marijuana to be a Schedule 1 drug, like heroin or LSD or other, more dangerous drugs. The designation has always been ridiculous, but I've come to expect idiocy and hysteria from the GOP. Previous attempts to remove the designation from hemp have been met with horrified protestations that it would put us on a path to (gasp!) COMPLETE LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA!

So, what the hell? Has Mitch McConnell had some kind of mind-opening epiphany?

I'm doubtful. Rather, I'd suggest a couple more likely possibilities.

One is that McConnell is trying to present a new face to Kentuckians. He's up for reelection in 2014, and according to polls in his home state, he's in real trouble with his constituency. The Blue Grass state's legislature is currently working on a bill that would legalize hemp production, just as we have done in Oregon. If McConnell can remove the federal prohibition, he's bound to win favor with hemp farmers in Kentucky and demonstrate to all Kentuckians the advantages of having such a powerful senator (whom they should, of course vote for next year).

Another possibility is that this is an effort by McConnell to get the GOP to loosen up a little bit; to not appear to be anathema to anyone under 40. Any time a politician on the national level makes an announcement, you can bet that the issue has been poll-tested and checked out long before he stands at the microphone. And the results of the election in November demonstrated clearly that the GOP needs to improve its image with vast swathes of the electorate. Could this be McConnell's opening bid?

I'll tell ya, though... the best thing Mitch could do to show that he's really changed his ways is to sit down with one of his staffers and get high. (And you just know there's a toker or two on McConnell's staff.) In fact, if Republicans in Congress hit the bong once a week or so, our politics would be a lot less contentious. Hell, they might even manage to get some things done up on Capitol Hill!

So go ahead, Mitch! Take a little toke! It won't hurt ya.

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