After three weeks without a speaker, the US Congress has finally managed to elect someone to the role – that’s the good news.
The bad news is the new speaker is a climate change sceptic who once helped force the government to pay for a Noah’s Ark theme park.
That’s Mike Johnson, a Republican politician for northern Louisiana, who will presumably have a lot in his in-tray this morning, after nearly a month of political paralysis in the US government.
If you haven’t heard of Johnson, that’s okay. He’s been described as “obscure” and “largely unknown” even by a newspaper in his home state. Always a good sign for an elected politician.
But while he doesn’t have a huge track record in the US Congress – he’s only been there for four terms – things take a turn for the weird and wacky when you look at his previous career.
In 2014, Johnson worked as a lawyer for Ken Ham, an Australian Christian fundamentalist whose company, Answers in Genesis, has been peddling creationist views since 1994.
I am honored to have been elected the 56th Speaker of the House. It is time to come together to deliver for the American people!
Among those is that the entire universe is only 6,000 years old, and that things like evolution, geology, archeology, physics, astronomy, among others, were planted by a deceptive God to test our belief and loyalty.
That means that, for Ham, things like fossils and distant stars are just a load of hokum.
Of course, Johnson doesn’t necessarily believe the same stuff as his employer – but he did work for Ham totally free-of-charge. Gulp.
What’s more, he helped Answers in Genesis sue the state of Kentucky for refusing to pay for the Noah’s Ark theme park.
Answers in Genesis won, and the theme park was eventually built, partially funded by Kentucky tax payers.
It contains a giant replica of the Ark itself, and you can still visit it.
some select photos from the ark encounter that speaker-designate mike johnson worked for -- one claiming there was dinosaurs on the ark; another claiming there were 1,400 animal "kinds" on it; and finally, a panel claiming that young earth creationism is biblically solid
The signage even suggests that there were dinosaurs on the Ark, which seems rather inconsistent with the whole not-believing-in-fossils schtick, but hey ho.
Meanwhile, Johnson is also sceptical of the scientific consensus on climate change.
He has suggested that recent climate change-driven weather patterns are just part of “natural cycles over the span of the Earth’s history”.
Sounds like the US isn’t going to be saving the planet anytime soon.