During the last presidential race, three Republican hopefuls, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback all raised their hands when they were asked during a debate if they did not believe in biological evolution. In a column last year, I argued that candidates' beliefs about biological evolution are important because it tells something about how scientific knowledge informs their leadership.
In the dichotomous division of labor between our two major American political parties, the Democrats are generally assigned the role of the "Evil Party" and the Republicans constitute the "Stupid Party." The Little Green Footballs blog sadly provides evidence that three prominent Republican governors and early GOP presidential frontrunners are hard at work maintaining their party's proud tradition. How? They are apparently creationists.
In 2006, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford:
Newswatch Host David Stanton: What do you think about the idea of teaching alternatives to Darwin's Theory of Evolution in public schools* for instance Intelligent Design?
Gov. Sanford: I have no problem with it.
Stanton: Do you think it should be done that way? Rather than just teaching evolution?
Gov. Sanford: Well I think that it's just, and science is more and more documenting this, is that there are real "chinks" in the armor of evolution being the only way we came about. The idea of there being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being… is completely at odds with, you know, one of the laws of thermodynamics which is the law of, of … in essence, destruction.
When asked about then GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin's defense of intelligent design by NBC newsman Tom Brokaw, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty responded:
I saw her comments on it yesterday, and I thought they were appropriate, which is, you know, let's — if there are competing theories, and they are credible, her view of it was, according to the comments in the newspaper, allow them all to be presented or allow them both to be presented so students could be exposed to both or more and have a chance to be exposed to the various theories and make up their own minds…
In the scientific community, it seems like intelligent design is dismissed — not entirely, there are a lot of scientists who would make the case that it is appropriate to be taught and appropriate to be demonstrated, but in terms of the curriculum in the schools in Minnesota, we've taken the approach that that's a local decision.
Last year, Louisana's Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an "academic freedom" bill that intelligent design creationists hope to use as a way to smuggle their anti-evolution views into public school science classes.
Jindal bonus: He participated in an exorcism some years back.
Thanks to Volokh Conspiracy for the heads up.