Every time someone makes the open-ended, judgemental observation "Only in America..." my mind recalls the stand-up act of the comic Yakov Smirnov, who punctuated half his career with jokes concluding "America...what a country." The other half of his career was spent chatting with whoever at the time was hosting Hollywood Squares. Yakov usually wound up in a corner square -- for good reason...Whoopi Goldberg usually was the center square.
The reason why any of this is even remotely significant -- a long-shot at best -- is the more things change, the more they stay the same. In a post herein discussing "Super-Size Me," the Morgan Spurlock documentary about a 30-day diet of nothing but McDonald's, I concluded that the government should not take action against fast-food companies who sell billions of dollars worth of fat-laden, addictive crap to children and empty-headed adults, opining instead that the notion of common sense -- and caveat emptor -- should be our pilot, not warning labels and lawsuits, in living our lives.
I predicted that, sooner or later, the government would eventually get involved.
That day is today.
In a complaint filed Friday in LA Superior Court, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer sought an injunction to stop restaurant chains such as McDonald's Corp. and Wendy's International Inc. from selling french fries without some form of warning. The impetus to the complaint is not, however, that french fries are unhealthy due to being overloaded with salt, starch, cholesterol (not to mention they clog up arteries and result in heart attack and certain death); according to Lockyer's suit, manufacturers of french fries (as well as potato chips) should identify the dangers of high levels of acrylamide, a chemical that studies have found is created when starchy foods are cooked at high heat. Lockyer's suit names McDonald's Corp., Wendy's International Inc., PepsiCo's Frito-Lay Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. (makers of Pringles chips), Burger King Corp., KFC Corp. (for its KFC Potato Wedges), Kettle Foods Inc. (makers of Kettle chips), and Cape Cod Potato Chips.
Lockyer's suit "asks manufacturers of these products to identify the dangers of high levels of acrylamide, a chemical that studies have found is created when starchy foods are cooked at high heat," according to an article on CNN's website.
The article mentions some uses -- many of them industrial -- of acrylamide. The article also cites the scientific study that suggested potatoes and other starchy foods cooked at high temperatures contained low levels of acrylamide. Other studies have discounted the potential toxicity of acrylamide to humans, especially at low levels.
So Mr. Lockyer (aka Big Dumbass) filed a complaint which has little, if any, merit. His explanation, incidentally, of why he filed the complaint is equally worthy of sympathy: "I know from personal experience that, while these snacks may not be a necessary part of a healthy diet, they sure taste good. But I, and all consumers, should have the information we need to make informed decisions about the food we eat."
Why did Lockyer stop at mandating cooked potatoes? Why didn't he go after the makers of soda? Soda, keep in mind, is almost exlusively -- in both sugar and diet varieties -- comprised of a number of chemicals which are even more dangerous than potatoes, cooked or otherwise. And odds are high that anyone irresponsibly consuming cancer-causing things -- like cooked potatoes -- are likely to be imbibing sugar-laden and/or diet soda. While at it, he should have gone after the company that manufactures cheese-doodles; those can't be safe for human consumption. They practically glow in the dark. And if we're going after that company, we might as well drop a wrecking-ball on Rold Gold; those pretzels, in all their salty, curvy, knotted glory have to be unhealthy, no question about it. While we're on the subject, we might as well take a shot at Ben & Jerry's -- even if their ice cream is made with mostly natural stuff, they're single-handedly responsible for adding extranneous weight -- which kills people -- on the entire American populace. And it would sure be a lot easier to put Ben & Jerry in prison than go find the Flying Dutchman that rules Haagen-Daaz.
Big Dumbass's lawsuit alleges that companies have violated a state law passed in 1986 requiring companies to provide warnings before exposing people to known carcinogens or reproductive toxins.
Why isn't there a state law requiring attention-seeking moron politicians to provide warnings before exposing the nation to paternalistic, ridiculous complaints, meddling and incredible stupidity?
America...what a country.