If ignorance were bliss, this would be heaven. But it's not.

As states go, we ain't exactly rocket surgeons, you know. That whole “ND Smart” slogan amounted mostly to clouds of smoke being blown up our shorts. We're farting smoke rings, but that's about all that's been accomplished. We've got COVID up the wazoo. And free dumb. Lots and lots of free dumb.

Statistically, we may well be the dumbest state in the country, and that's saying something because South Dakota is just west of here. Forrest Gump's our spirit animal, and next session, legislators will probably change our nickname from the “Flickertail State” to the “Vegetative State.”

By now, humorless Republicans (am I being redundant?) are snarling, “You think you're so smart, don't you, Bender?” The answer is “yes.” If it weren't for my brainpower and Mike McFeely's, our state's autonomic functions wouldn't.

While stable geniuses are easily identifiable, identifying our dumbest “leader” is tougher.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

So. Much. Competition.

Sure, Data-Driven Doug's mask mandate was smart, but the timing was awful. His horse, Man O' Personal Responsibility, was on the loose for months before Burgum finally got around to latching the barn door. Trumpers were predictably triggered by the concept of being their brother's keeper, but by then the decisively indecisive Burgum had dawdled so long, he'd managed to tick off progressives, too. One of the classic blunders not involving Sicilians.

How bad has it gotten when Kristi Numb is considered the smartest governor in the Dakotas?

Meanwhile, sheriffs in Stark, Bowman, Hettinger and Hooterville counties reacted as if Burgum had enacted martial law, suspended habeas corpus, E Pluribus Unum, and other Latin phrases. So they refused to enforce the mandate. It's the slipperiest of slopes. By this time next year, no one in Mott will even be wearing pants.

John Hoeven may be a bigger disappointment than Burgum. You'll find him in a fetal position under his desk in Washington. I'm not saying he's afraid to stand up against Trump and for the Constitution, but he's laying eggs down there.

Kevin Cramer's a perennial contender for North Dakota Moron of the Year, but keep your eye on Dickinson Representative Luke Simons. He's barber by trade, a part-time virologist and the kind of guy you'd expect to run with scissors.

Then there's Rep. Rick Becker, a Bismarck boob. Doctor. Hey, when even surgeons in your state are anti-maskers, you deserve all the shade Bill Maher throws at you.

I have spotted Bismarck Mayor Steve Bakken wearing a mask, though. Under his nose. Which is a little like wearing a condom on your testicles. Sure, it's fashionable, but not effective. But then, neither is Bakken.

Meanwhile, in the Redneck River Valley, Fargo City Commissioner Tony Gehrig is getting increasingly cranky about rules to protect public health. He doesn't just have a chip on his shoulder, he's got guacamole, too. It might be leaking from his ears.

Gehrig's joined in his anti-gummit crusade by Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, a former gridiron star who took the well-intentioned, if unusual, step of donating his brain to science midway through his first term. No one noticed.

Be Legendary. Be legendary, they say. Heck, these days in North Dakota, below-average would be a giant leap forward.

Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service.