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Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas is excited that the state of Utah's Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining is hosting a contest for Earth Day asking kids to make a poster highlighting the importance of drilling. "The best thing about the Earth," Stockman tweeted, "is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out." This was a provocation that Twitter couldn't resist.

It is a bit strange to use the occasion of Earth Day as a moment to talk up oil and gas drilling. To Stockman's point, fossil fuels and raw minerals are part of the Earth, it's true. But environmentalists tend to consider the extraction of those things to be a net negative for the environment, much less burning them. The spirit of Earth Day isn't that people stand around and clap at the planet, of course — it was founded to draw attention to environmental degradation. As Stockman and the Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining are very well aware. Could you use the word "troll" in this scenario? If you wish.

Twitter, as it does, quickly took the bait.

To Beutler's point, Stockman's follow-up tweets suggest that this was hardly a gaffe.

An observer could certainly take issue with some of the points made here by Stockman. We won't pass judgment on the characterization of liberals, but will note that the congressman's characterization of California's oil wealth appears to be conflating a few different things.

The best reply came from the Guardian's Ana Marie Cox, who could certainly be grouped among the aforementioned science-hating, Bronze-Age-loving liberals.

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