EDITORIAL: Yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity
Say what you will about state Sen. Scott Wagner ...
No, seriously; just let him have it.
He’s totally cool with it, as long as you spell and pronounce his name correctly.
That was the Spring Garden Township Republican’s response last week after John Oliver obliterated him the night before on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.”
Oliver had blasted President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, suggesting Americans now need to turn to their local representatives for support in addressing climate change.
"Maybe you'll get lucky; maybe yours is great," he said. "Or maybe you live in Pennsylvania and you're represented by state Sen. Scott Wagner, who has an interesting theory for what might be causing global warming."
The show then cut to an audio clip of Wagner speaking in March to a reporter about climate change after giving a speech to natural gas advocates.
"The earth moves closer to the sun every year," Wagner said. "We have more people. You know, humans have warm bodies, so is heat coming off? We're just going through a lot of change, but I think we are, as a society, doing the best we can."
Oliver pointed out that the Earth does move closer to the sun and then further away — "because that is what a f---ing year is" — and our body heat is not warming the planet.
"And we are clearly not doing the best we can because we keep putting idiots like Scott Wagner in positions of power," he said.
Informed of his own skewering the next morning, Wagner — who said he hadn’t seen the show — assured The York Dispatch that long as Oliver spelled and pronounced his named correctly, he was fine with it.
He didn’t hang his head in shame when his ignorance or deceit was broadcast for all to see and held up for the ridicule it deserves.
Wagner didn’t walk back his comments, or try to spin them in such a way that his comments didn't come across as, let’s face it, moronic.
And he could have.
He could have assured us he knows what an elliptical orbit is and understands the planets in our solar system continue to travel the same paths they have for billions of year, “but what I was trying to say …”
Maybe what he was trying to say would have been incorrect, but it might not have been so spectacularly stupid.
In fact, Wagner even made his own video in response, addressing Oliver and thanking the host for "putting my picture and my name on national TV" and saving him "probably $1 million in media advertising."
He added that he would love to come on Oliver's show sometime, saying, "You and I could have a lot of fun.”
Yes, Wagner is the drunk heckler at the comedy club who wants to be part of the show.
This would all be hilarious if climate change weren’t an existential crisis, Wagner weren’t in a position to make policy and if he weren’t seeking the highest office in Pennsylvania.
Wagner might believe there’s no such thing as bad publicity as he campaigns for governor, but he’s wrong.
The question is how many voters will overlook or laugh off ignorant comments or actions and how many will see them for what they are — disqualifying.
After last year’s presidential campaign and the resulting horror show now playing in the White House, we suspect there will be more of the latter come next year’s gubernatorial election.