The state says we have a severe shortage of science teachers in South Carolina.

Apparently, they haven't looked at the Statehouse lately. Because we have a lot of lawmakers who clearly think they know everything about this science malarkey.

At least, they keep trying to foist their cockamamie theories as fact on the rest of us.

The problem this week is a proposal from 8-year-old Olivia McConnell of Lake City, who suggested the General Assembly designate the Columbian Mammoth as the Official State Fossil.

Which raises the obvious question: Doesn't John C. Calhoun already hold that distinction?

But since the Legislature obviously has no more pressing business than this, several lawmakers have attempted to amend this innocuous bill. See, they don't like the fact that science says the mammoth went extinct 10,000 years ago. That conflicts with their flat-earth views that the world is a mere 6,000 years old.

So Sen. Kevin Bryant, who sort of is a man of science (he's a pharmacist), amended Olivia's proposal to note that the Lord created the mammoth "on the sixth day with the beasts of the field."

Yeah, well on what day did the Lord create the pandering politician?

Naturally selective?

Back in 1725, slaves discovered the fossilized teeth of a mammoth in a South Carolina swamp.

The legislation claims this is the first scientific identification of a North American vertebrate fossil. And this is where Olivia got her idea. Well, that and the fact that South Carolina is one of the few states that doesn't have an official fossil.

Unfortunately, this particular piece of legislation comes up at a time when lawmakers are debating science standards. Or, more accurately, politicians are trying to muck up accepted science with socially conservative politics.

Some of these lawmakers aren't real sure they want the state teaching anything that might conflict with their beliefs. For instance, Sen. Mike Fair - who initially objected to Olivia's idea - thinks natural selection should be taught as theory instead of fact.

He actually has a good point. Because there is plenty of evidence right here in South Carolina that some things really don't evolve.

Politicians, mostly.

For a bunch of guys who believe the words of the Founders are written in stone as much as the Good Book, they sure do like to ignore that whole separation of church and state when it suits their re-election year purposes.

Official waste of time

Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler is the only person who offered a legitimate reason to hold up this designation for the mammoth.

He says the state has gone crazy with Official State Whatevers, and there should be a moratorium.

He's absolutely right.

Beyond the typical state bird, flower and tree, South Carolina has an Official Stone (granite), Official Gemstone (amethyst), State Beverage (milk), State Hospitality Beverage (tea), State Dance (the shag), State Waltz (the Richardson) and State American Folk Dance (the square dance).

Where's the Official Soy-Based Coffee Additive?

This is what some legislators do instead of say, solving the Medicaid crisis or funding higher education. But then, it's much easier to designate barbecue as the Official State Picnic Cuisine than it is to pay for social services.

It looks like the Legislature is going to give Olivia her Official State Fossil, even if she has to accept a few Bible verses in an otherwise scientific designation. The upside is that she has learned a valuable lesson: facts (which is what science is based upon) are debatable in politics.

The Legislature should just quit trying to preach and give this an up or down vote.

And then they should do as Peeler suggests and quit wasting time with official designations, at least until they figure out how to pave roads (the Official State Road Surface is Asphalt, by the way).

But before they retire completely from the state superlatives sweepstakes, they should designate South Carolina's Official State of Mind.

That would be the Closed, of course.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.