I grew up in a small town in central Iowa and the soundtrack of that time would most certainly have to include my comedic hero, Dan Coffey, and the daily 90-second bit he used to do on NPR called "Ask Dr. Science."
During the eighties and nineties, Dr. Science and his sidekick Rodney (played by Merle Kessler) did thousands of these syndicated segments for NPR, wrote a book (The Official Dr. Science Big Book of Science Simplified!) and even had a brief TV series on Fox. Later, Coffey did numerous projects, including heading-up the Iowa Radio Project at the University of Iowa, and also served as the first (and funniest) host of the NPR quiz show Wait Wait. . . Don't Tell Me!
These days Coffey is retired and living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but I was able to get in touch with him and begged him to conjure-up Dr. Science once again so that the good doctor could weigh in on Scott Walker. He agreed and even let me play Rodney!
So, ahem, without further ado...
"Rodney" (Jud Lounsbury): It's time once again to Ask Dr. Science, so let's ask Dr. Science!
Dr. Science: That's me.
Rodney: Remember, he knows more than you do.
Dr. Science: That's right.
Rodney: Today's questions focus on the science of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Dr: Science: Governor Walker's plans have more to do with hard science than any liberal arts major might suppose. Face it: He's a brilliant man and a great human being. If only the whiny liberals, foodies, and Monsanto haters in that state could wake up and smell the coffee, they'd throw their weight and votes behind Scott instead of making his difficult job even harder.
Rodney: First, Jill Abernathy of Sheboygen, WI asks, "Governor Walker is proposing eliminating funding for removal of the 23,000 dead deer on the side of Wisconsin roadways. Some have cautioned that leaving rotting carcasses could be a smelly nuisance and even a health hazard. Are these concerns valid?"
Dr. Science: Deer, especially in Wisconsin, are a form of forest rat. The spawn of escaped laboratory rats that mated in the wild, they are often radioactive and full of rare isotopes that make normal decomposition impossible. Governor Walker knows this, as he was a chemistry major for a few months during his freshman year in college, before he discovered that Recreation and Leisure Lifestyles was an easier field of study. So Governor Walker's plans have more to do with hard science than any liberal arts major might suppose.
Rodney: Next, Gary Stern from Manchester, New Hampshire, asks, "Is there any merit to the Walker administration’s contention that volcanoes are causing global warming?"
Dr. Science: Volcanoes are a result of global warming. When the earth gets too warm, volcanoes form, much as acne mars the oily forehead of a teenager. Again, Scott is way ahead of the game when it comes to cause and effect.
Rodney: Ted Grimes of Des Moines, Iowa asks, "What are the ramifications of Governor Walker exempting mining companies from arsenic ground water contamination?"
Dr. Science: Arsenic is actually good for you and gives groundwater a certain "tang." The Romans knew this, but many Americans have forgotten or failed to learn this fact in the first place. This learning deficiency may be due to lack of arsenic in the diet.
Rodney: And now to Amy Stenbroten in Moberly, Missouri, "Scott Walker's church embraces the controversial practice of 'speaking in tongues.' Wouldn't God just speak in English, French, or whatever language the rest of the people in the room speak?"
Dr. Science: God speaks in BASIC. He used to speak in FORTRAN, but most listeners found it too difficult to understand.
Rodney: Helen Jenkins of Freeport, Illinois, asks, "Walker has passed a law requiring Wisconsinites to use state-authorized photo IDs. Why implement something so onerous for the elderly and others that don't drive when there isn't any scientific evidence of voter fraud occurring?"
Dr. Science: State photo IDs encourage patriotism. When you have a photo ID, you're part of something bigger than yourself. You belong. That awful lonely ache that so many of grapple with is suddenly ancient history. Also, as we age, many of us face the challenge of progressive dementia. When in doubt, a citizen can retrieve his photo ID and let the confusion pass. Again, another example of Walker's compassion.
Rodney: Finally, Sally Neumann of Chatanooga Tennnessee asks, "Do you share the concern of many in the science community that Walker is firing half the scientists at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources?"
Dr. Science: No concern at all. Scientists need to be fired routinely and frequently, or they become fat and self-satisfied. Hopefully some of them will eschew science completely and go into personal empowerment and alternative religions.These fields are less crowded and rapidly expanding, as Americans have no real stomach for the rigors of Scientific Inquiry.
Rodney: Thank you, Dr. Science. Send your science questions to 'Ask Dr. Science.' Remember: He's not a real doctor.
Dr. Science: I have a masters degree!
Rodney: In science.
Jud Lounsbury is a political reporter based in Madison, Wisconsin. Previously, Lounsbury served as a press secretary for several politicians and organizations, including Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, and Al Gore's Iowa campaign.