The day after Gov. Paul LePage walked back his declaration that the Constitution is “broken” and America needs the “authoritarian power” of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, the governor took to the right-wing talk radio circuit to attack the media, fellow Republicans opposing Trump and local progressive activists whom he says should be imprisoned for trying to raise the minimum wage. He also argued that the November election will not be legitimate. 

When we left off last week, the governor had called a press conference to clarify that he meant that America needs Trump’s “authoritative” power, not his “authoritarian” power, and to show off his little collection of Bill Clinton sex scandal-themed Russian nesting dolls. The governor said the dolls were given to him by a Russian politician when he visited the country in 2008, though the dolls are available on ebay for $29.99 plus $6.45 for shipping.

“That’s what they [Russians] think of our leaders,” the governor said of the dolls. That afternoon, LePage went on the Howie Carr radio show to continue his tirade against traitorous Republicans who think Donald Trump is unfit to be president because of his questionable business dealings, his temperament and sexually predatory behavior, among several other reasons. 

“I was appalled at people like Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Paul Ryan. I’m appalled,” LePage thundered. “These guys play the game, they’re into the arena, they know what’s going on. They’re a bunch of hypocrites, if you wanna know the truth.”

The next day, LePage headed down to a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Lewiston to declare his opposition to the five referendum questions on the November ballot. In a video posted by the Lewiston Sun Journal, LePage said that Question 4, which would gradually raise the state minimum wage from $7.50 to $12 per hour by 2020, would “throw” low-wage, part-time workers with intellectual and physical disabilities “to the curb” because their employers wouldn’t be able to afford to pay them a higher wage. He added that “if you go from $7.65 to $12” the cost of food will go up, which will force elderly people on fixed incomes into poverty. The governor then took aim at Maine People’s Alliance activists Ben Chin and Mike Tipping, who are helping to lead the Question 4 campaign. 

“And frankly, I think those two people should be thrown in jail for what they’re doing to the elderly in the state of Maine on this minimum wage,” LePage said. “This minimum wage is an anti-elderly bill and it’s horrible.”

The next day on a WGAN morning radio show, LePage was asked to elaborate on his comments about arresting and imprisoning activists.

“To me it’s a cruel and unusual punishment for people that have lived their lives honestly and truthfully in the state of Maine and in their senior years,” LePage replied. “Guys like Ben Chin and Mike Tipping come in and they’re going to penalize them and I think it’s so bad that they should be put in prison. I find that to be a crime.” He added that Chin and Tipping are “Marxists” who are “deliberately and knowingly hurting Mainers.” 

“Well, this is attempted murder in my mind because it is pushing people to the brink of survival,” LePage said. “And the reason that I think that’s important is you’ve got to express as harshly as you can in order for some people to get it.” 

In response to the governor’s comments, Mike Tipping tweeted, “We should all strive to be someone that authoritarians would jail if they could.” He also noted that LePage once again failed to get the state’s current minimum pay right. It’s $7.50, not $7.65 per hour.

The governor also saved some venom for the media.

“And the First Amendment is almost an embarrassment now because the media has become so lopsided, so biased,” he said. “And today I had a press conference and I told them, I have zero respect for the media. Zero respect. I like ’em as individuals, but as their profession, I think that they’re killing America … because they only report one side of the equation and if they can go after somebody, they do. They love to kill with words.”

The First Amendment of the Constitution, adopted in 1791, states that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.…” The governor went on to call members of the media “a bunch of idiots,” stating that “as soon as they go out of business, the sooner we can put our country back together.” 

“There are two professions that are the two lowest in Maine, a journalist and a politician,” the governor said. 

LePage also decried the partisanship and polarization of American politics and questioned whether the Constitution needs to be amended. 

“The problem is, our government and our systems are so gridlocked, both from Washington down into the states,” the governor told WGAN. “And I’ve talked to several governors this past week ... on different issues and they’re all saying the same thing — that there’s no such thing as governing from the middle anymore. It’s extremes on both ends.… And unless we get back to it, our Constitution is going to have to be changed because we just won’t be able to function.” 

He added that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “belongs in jail.” On Tuesday, the governor went on WVOM again to decry the election system, arguing that because Maine doesn’t require photo IDs to vote, “people from the cemetery” and undocumented immigrants will be voting. 

“And so until we do that,” said LePage, who has won two elections in Maine, “I don’t think that the elections in the state of Maine or in the United States are legitimate.”

In a statement, the ACLU of Maine noted that Maine law already requires election clerks to check voter rolls against death certificates and other records. The group cited an investigation by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt, which found only 31 credible allegations of voters pretending to be someone else at the polls, out of 1 billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014 in the United States. 

“Given that voter ID laws supposedly target a type of crime that isn’t actually being committed, and disenfranchise a whole lot of qualified poor and minority voters in the process, there can be no justification for them,” wrote the ACLU. “That’s why the Maine Legislature has rejected repeated attempts to put such discriminatory laws in place in Maine.”