Politicians from the right and left have been going out of their way to stress that this strain of bird flu has not been transmitted to humans and it is still very safe to buy turkey. A giant turkey burger cookout was hosted at the Capitol yesterday to drive the point home.
DFL state Rep. Ron Erhardt apparently didn't get the memo.
Erhardt, 85, brought a host of props with him — seriously, he wore a lab coat, then broke out a stethoscope, and at one point rattled around an oversized jar labeled "Bird Flu Vaccine" full of... something, for an appallingly tone-deaf attempt at comedy on the House floor yesterday.
It was a glorious, knuckle-biting train wreck.
Here's the speech transcribed, via Abby Simons at the Star Tribune:
This is going to come a little late for some of you because you've already been to lunch, but on Saturday I had a nice turkey dinner and almost immediately after I began feeling signs of flu, and I was all flued out all day Sunday, so I got here on Monday and I heard about this giveaway, the turkey burger day, and I began to wonder...well I wonder, because I remember a couple years ago when we had some transference of avian flu to birds and people and I thought 'Well, maybe I think I should mention this, at least give you a fair warning that it's a possibility,' but I didn't get a chance to do that.
After I found out, as a matter of fact that this (turkey burger cookout) was a bipartisan offer and not just an offer to the DFL, I felt a little better about it—the burgers I mean.
Now, I put on my former doctoring hat and clothes and began to think about this, and I thought 'Well, there must be some way, even after you have ingested this possible poison, that we might help you out.'
So I looked around for any type of vaccine and I couldn't find enough needles and it was too unsanitary so I ruled out that. But then I found there's that there's some oral vaccines that you can take that will slow it down..."
Unfortunately, that's when he gets cut off by southern Minnesota legislators who had heard enough of Erhardt's unfathomably stupid joke.
Where was he going with that? What was in the jar? Why did he think it was a good idea to refer to turkey meat, which drives one of the state's biggest industries, as "possible poison"?
We tried reaching Erhardt last night to at least allow him to complete the joke, but he never returned our calls. We may never get all the answers to these questions, and that's a damn shame.
Send news tips to Ben Johnson.
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