Dear South Dakota, Are you OK? Because your new ad campaign is freaking us out.
Folks, I'm no conspiracy theorist — I still believe Jeffrey Epstein strangled himself to death and that Prince Andrew was out getting pizza at the time — but South Dakota's weird new meth awareness campaign looks like a diversionary tactic to draw attention from a North Dakota scandal in which officials apparently flaunted bidding laws in their own marketing effort.
It turns out North Dakota actually spent $87,000 — not $9,500 as initially reported — for rebranding and a logo. The decidedly uninspiring logo was created by a former associate of Gov. Doug Burgum's, apparently on Microsoft Word.
We're reinventing Helvetica. We're also breaking up the good old boy network. Juuuuust sort of easing into it.
Anecdotal evidence suggests the logo, “North Dakota. Be Legendary,” has become a public safety issue. Drivers often nod off while reading the billboards.
South Dakota's like, “Hold my beer.” Or, “Hold my meth.” Or most probably, “Hold my meth and my beer and my kuchen.” Their promotion features the phrase, “Meth. We're on it.” Ads depict drug-addled residents from all walks of life seemingly confessing to meth use.
That's methed up. North Dakota's planning an intervention just as soon as Bison football season is over.
In fairness, the new $449,000 meth awareness effort is better than their previous “Don't Jerk and Drive” (really) campaign. This next sentence is me showing restraint.
Now, to some people (like America) it appears South Dakota's actually promoting meth use — that you could probably get some at the drive-through along with your Happy Meal, and that if you examine Mt. Rushmore closely, Jefferson's holding a crack pipe. If so, it's inconsistent messaging because South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is simultaneously cracking down on hardened hemp addicts.
I plan to investigate this situation further during a reconnaissance mission to South Dakota over Thanksgiving. Now that I think about it, last Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law kept snorting the gravy. I just thought she was a bad eater.
While I'm there, I'll see if there's any progress on the investigation into North Dakota's LogoGate. You read that sentence correctly. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has declared a conflict of interest and outsourced the investigation to a bunch of meth-heads in Pierre.
It's unclear what Stenehjem's conflict is. After all, this is the guy who once ruled that a closed meeting between himself and Burgum (both members of the three-person Industrial Commission), and EPA Director Scott Pruitt, didn't violate open meetings law.
Spoiler alert: It kinda did.
Other spoiler alert: It was also a conflict of interest.
Meanwhile, North Dakota State Auditor Josh Gallion, who exposed LogoGate, seems able to set aside personal feelings in an effort to make pretty much everyone in state government do a perp walk. In Stenehjem's case, we can only speculate that the issue is with Burgum, who defeated him for the Republican nomination. Yes, there was some bitter political infighting, but ultimately it came down to one thing. Burgum is easier to spell.
If South Dakota's crack team of investigative meth-heads does find evidence of misconduct, no big deal, really; all Burgum needs to do is pardon himself just like Stenehjem did.
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service.
This column has been updated to correct the first name of Scott Pruitt.