Newsweek Mocks GOP Congressman's Religious Beliefs with 'Creation of Adam' Photoshop

November 23rd, 2010 12:53 PM

Apparently the sophomoric folks at Newsweek are getting a bit giddy during the short work week leading up to Thanksgiving.

To accompany David Graham's November 23 The Gaggle blog post, Newsweek editors included a photo manipulation featuring the face of Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) on the body of Adam in Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam"

The photoshop was inspired by a March 2009 comment Shimkus made that reflects his religious beliefs, a comment that Graham apparently finds suitable for mockery and as evidence that Shimkus would be a poor choice to chair a committee that might deal with climate change-related issues and legislation:

John Shimkus, candidate for House Energy and Commerce Committee chair:  While [Rep. Joe] Barton simply ignores scientific data, another contender for the same post disputes it with recourse to other written documentation—to wit, the Bible. Illinois's Shimkus says climate change is real, a fact he observed while traveling to Greenland. However, he told Politico, there's no reason to worry, since God promised Moses after the great flood that he wouldn't deluge the world again. "I do believe in the Bible as the final word of God," he said. "And I do believe that God said the Earth would not be destroyed by a flood." Whether Shimkus will have the opportunity to drive policies based on revelation remains to be seen, though: he's mostly seen as the third candidate in the race.

Of course Graham left out another quote from a recent Politico article where Shimkus insisted that:

The question is more about the costs and benefits and trying to spend taxpayer dollars on something that you cannot stop versus the changes that have been occurring forever. That's the real debate.

Elsewhere in his post, "Meet the GOP Science Skeptics Likely to Hold Top House Science, Energy Posts," Graham lamented that Rep. Fred Upton's support for a ban on incandescent light bulbs may doom his chances to chair the Energy and Commerce Committee:

While Upton has had a more moderate record on the environment, he's recently been trying to spruce up his conservative credentials. Instead of denouncing global warming as a hoax, he has focused on attacking the Obama administration. Complaining that White House climate-change "czar" Carol Browner hasn't testified before Congress frequently enough, the Michigander has promised that he'll make her a regular presence—and punching bag—if he wins the chairmanship. Writing in the archconservative Human Events, he said, "She was the Obama administration’s point person for a massive economy-killing national energy tax in the form of a cap-and-trade scheme." But some influential conservatives—from Rush Limbaugh to Erick Erickson—aren't buying Upton's road-to-Damascus narrative. The reason? It's Upton's cosponsorship of a 2007 bill that mandated the phasing out of incandescent lightbulbs in favor of more energy-efficient, longer-lasting bulbs (the bill's other major sponsor was Rep. Jane Harman of California, whose husband, Sidney Harman, owns NEWSWEEK). While seemingly harmless, that law has earned the ire of conservatives, mostly on the principle that government shouldn't be meddling in lighting (coming from the left, Kate Sheppard wrote a good rundown of the controversy in September). If Upton doesn't get the chair, that law could be the major reason.

While Graham dismissed the measure as "seemingly harmless," the fact is that one of the highly-touted replacements for traditional lightbulbs, compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), contain mercury and are hence much more hazardous in household use, particularly when they require disposal after breaking.

From an April 2008 article at the website of  Scientific American:

Compact fluorescents, like their tubular fluorescent precursors, contain a small amount of mercury—typically around five milligrams. Mercury is essential to a fluorescent bulb's ability to emit light; no other element has proved as efficient.


As effective as it is at enabling white light, however, mercury—sometimes called quicksilver—is also highly toxic. It is especially harmful to the brains of both fetuses and children. That's why officials have curtailed or banned its use in applications from thermometers to automotive and thermostat switches. (A single thermostat switch, still common in many homes, may contain 3,000 milligrams (0.1 ounce) of mercury, or as much as 600 compact fluorescents.)


The problem comes when a bulb breaks. Mercury escapes as vapor that can be inhaled and as a fine powder that can settle into carpet and other textiles. At least one case of mercury poisoning has been linked to fluorescents: A 1987 article in Pediatrics describes a 23-month-old who suffered weight loss and severe rashes after a carton of eight-foot (2.4-meter) tubular bulbs broke in a play area.



The important thing is not to touch the heavy metal. After airing out the room, the larger pieces of the bulb should be scooped off hard surfaces with stiff paper or cardboard or picked up off carpeted surfaces with gloves to avoid contact. Use sticky tape or duct tape to pick up smaller fragments; then, on hard surfaces, wipe down the area with a damp paper towel or a wet wipe. All materials should be placed in a sealable plastic bag or, even better, in a glass jar with a metal lid.

"If it gets in the jar, that's pretty good containment," Berlow states. "We've found that the plastic bags actually don't contain any mercury fumes, so absolutely, if you've got the plastic bag, get it outside when you're done." Vacuums or brooms should generally be avoided, as they can spread mercury to other parts of the house.

Intact bulbs can be a headache to dispose of, too. In many locales it is illegal to throw fluorescents out with regular garbage, but the closest recycling or take-back facility may be miles away. (And, given the number of bottles and cans that end up in landfills despite the prevalence of curbside recycling programs, it seems likely that any barrier to recycling will make for relatively low reclamation rates; in 2004 the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers estimated a residential mercury bulb recycling rate of 2 percent.) Many municipal waste facilities and some vendors accept fluorescents; the EPA and Earth 911 maintain online directories of collection sites. Among major retailers of fluorescents, IKEA offers to take back compact fluorescent bulbs in its stores free of charge.

"Our first preference is not to see them go into landfills," Berlow says. "Recycling really closes the loop on this as best we can right now. But on the other hand, we also don't see huge risks from them going into landfills, either."