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How this kitchen item got politically polarizing in, uh, something like 72 hours.


We’re in one of those moments. The House of Representatives is finally organized and the new Republican majority will spend its coming months attempting to pass messaging bills. The Senate is out for most of January, and will serve as a sleepy nominations mill for the foreseeable future. The 2024 presidential field hasn’t been set. What is there to say?

… Anyone want to yuk it up about gas stoves?

In resounding harmony, this week the political world decided: YES.

It was Richard Trumka Jr., a commissioner on the Consumer Product Safety Commission, who lit the match that set ablaze the noxious, gas-filled air. In a Bloomberg piece about how the CPSC would consider health hazards associated with gas stoves this spring, Trumka said that “any option is on the table” regarding gas stoves. “Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”

What happened next was that everyone went nuts.

Trumka Jr., one of four commissioners of the CPSC, saying that gas stoves theoretically could be banned, quickly morphed into Joe Biden is going to take your gas stove that you love. The uproar prompted a clarifying statement from CPSC Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric, who said, “I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so.” Trumka Jr., who seems on a limb within the CPSC on this, tweeted that “CPSC isn’t coming for anyone’s gas stoves. Regulations apply to new products.” The White House, meanwhile, told CNN that “The President does not support banning gas stoves—and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is independent, is not banning gas stoves.”

While there is no nationwide ban of gas stoves in the offing, there are indeed plenty of Democrats who’ve raised concerns about gas stoves of late as research has amassed showing potential health risks. (It’s not as if anyone supposed that hovering over an open gas flame was actively beneficial.) Certain blue states, like New York, are considering action against gas appliances in new construction; California is ahead of them. A bicameral group of Democratic legislators in December, meanwhile, sent a letter to Hoehn-Saric urging CPSC to study emissions from gas stoves and consider certain regulations.

In a world that isn’t ours, this could be a sober-minded discussion in which the issue is studied further by neutral agencies, the exact level of risk of gas stoves are determined, and a political discussion about what level of government recourse, if any, is necessary.

In our world, though, gas stoves are this week’s object of struggle in the latest episode of American culture wars. The time has come for a Tweet Rundown.

Even though gas stove usage, relatively to electric, is actually most prominent in bluer corners of the country, Republicans this week have acted as though gas stoves are protected by the Second Amendment. Didn’t it used to be that yuppie liberals that were the ones going on about the greatness of gas stoves, as the only way to cook caramelized fennel Brussels sprout dingdongs? Those days are over.

Over.

Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson, a medical doctor who used to be responsible for President Obama’s physical health, suggested that he would fight White House employees to the death should they “come for my stove.”

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a joke about how he was dumb:

No, Jackson said, it is you, you’re the dumb one, and a hypocrite.

California Rep. Mike Garcia invited followers to “imagine a world where all tortillas are heated in the microwave.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s art team slapped something together where the graphics of gas ovens bear his signature.

Why are we dragging JFK into this?

Meanwhile, guess which Senate Democrat is on the 2024 ballot in a state that Republicans win by ~40 points in presidential years? You think he’s going to pass up a cultural opportunity like this to distance himself from the gas haters?

Take what you want from Joe Manchin’s house. The bed. The jewelry. The nautical GPS. Take his guns, take his TV, his knives, his jacuzzi. Take his ancient Sumerian amulet part that, when paired with a sister piece lost in the 14th century spice trade, offers a key clue to the location of a bracelet giving its wearer unlimited power. Take his wife—please! Take his soul.

But you will never take his gas stove.

Which consumer good shall we thrust into the political spotlight next week?





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