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Welcome to Glenn Beck's World: What If the Tea Partiers Ruled the Country?

Imagine a land where white, patriarchal, religiously zealous, Tea Party-type patriots rule. It's called Utah, and what happens here should terrify you.

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So the white hats are a bit soiled, but by now that’s an old story -- hypocrisy seems to be the evil twin of self-righteousness. Recent examples are too numerous to list.   

Miscarriage Cops

Perhaps the most outrageous legislative move the posse made this year was to  turn miscarriage into a crime. State Representative Carl Wimmer’s bill was admittedly directed at a very specific case of miscarriage. In 2009, a woman who had been abused by her boyfriend and feared his reaction if he discovered she was pregnant paid some dirtbag $150 to beat her up so she’d abort.

The crime was as rare as it was horrific and didn’t need its own bill. A rational person might reason that if the woman had access to affordable health care, including abortion, or if she had alternatives to living with an abusive partner, she might never have taken such drastic measures. Not Representative Wimmer, who was frank about his desire to challenge and “whittle away” at  Roe v. Wade. Every year some Utah legislator takes a shot at limiting abortion or making women who get abortions feel guilty and scared.

The bill was, in the end, amended to ensure that only a woman who repeated the specific act that generated Wimmer’s concern could be prosecuted. Lawmakers, however, seemed oblivious to the fact that, although only a self-arranged, beating-induced miscarriage could land a woman in jail, all women who miscarry are potentially subject to investigation. If you miscarry in Utah, you’d better be sure you have an alibi ready. So much for keeping the  damn guvmint off our backs.

Health Reform and Climate Change Banned

It looks like woman will wait a long time for access to health care. Legislators  passed a bill aimed at preventing Obamacare, as it is popularly known here, from coming to Utah without their explicit permission, no matter what the U.S. Congress does. They made it clear that if Utah’s citizens are required to buy insurance, the state will challenge the federal government’s right to mandate that in court. Opposition to health care reform is a centerpiece in a broader “states’ rights” campaign that even includes the weather.

So anti-climate change resolutions passed despite  pleas from Brigham Young University and University of Utah professors to heed an overwhelming scientific consensus on the subject. Representative Mike Noel, a rancher, was successful in convincing his colleagues that global warming is just a hoax. They called on the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress to avoid carbon dioxide regulation until “a full and independent investigation of climate change science” is conducted. Give them some credit: language was stripped from the resolution accusing global warming advocates of “conspiracy” because, hey, they don’t want to come across as nuts.

Another resolution called on Governor Gary Herbert to pull Utah out of the Western Climate Initiative, organized by a group of governors concerned about how climate change might affect fragile Western ecosystems. Then the posse passed another bill to protect utilities and energy producers from potential lawsuits claiming damage from greenhouse gases. And they warned those pesky professors to shut up, too.

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Wolves… or Stinkin’ Rangers Either

Legislators also tried to  ban wolves. There is little evidence wolves have migrated south from Idaho or Wyoming into Utah -- but  they might. And if they do: bang! The lawmakers were actually using the assault on the (prospective) wolves to aim at another Big Bad Wolf, the federal government, which reintroduced the dang critters up north, protects them, and obviously cares more for the animals, fish, and reptiles on the endangered species list than it does for real human beings with guns and jeeps that will be more or less useless if pointy-headed Beltway types are allowed to boss the good people of Utah around. Advised by their lawyers that their wolf bill was clearly unconstitutional, they turned it into a strongly worded letter to the Interior Department instead.