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Minnesota named No. 3 best state; Gov. Dayton celebrates with transfixing GIF

Stop looking. We dare you.

Stop looking. We dare you. @GovMarkDayton

If there's one thing that soothes our flyover hearts, it's prominent state-by-state list placement. Such a win arrived Tuesday when U.S. News & World Report unveiled its rankings of the best states in the U.S. 

Join us in chanting: We're No. 3! We're No. 3! We're No. 3! 

U.S. News ranked Minnesota third overall based on the following criteria: health care (No. 3); education (No. 11); crime/corrections (No. 17); infrastructure (No. 5); opportunity (No. 2); economy (No. 12); and government (No. 24). 

The only states superior to Minnesota? Massachusetts and New Hampshire, according to the list. The worst states in the union are Arkansas, Mississippi, and, finally, Louisiana ... happy Fat Tuesday :-(

But the real story here -- and let us stress: there's no actual real story here -- might just be Gov. Mark Dayton's celebration tweet. The tweet itself is unremarkable: "[email protected] ranked Minnesota the #3 Best State in America! Let’s celebrate!" Sure, fine. 

The GIF that adorns the tweet, on the other hand, is like a cartoon-y lava lamp -- you just can't look away! 

In it, we see Paul Bunyan and his pal Babe the Blue Ox frozen and grinning. They're flanking an anthropomorphized outline of Minnesota, one that reveals a dead stare as the lights hit. From there, the little fella beams triumphant, clutching his cone (of what appears to be) salad and waving from a pedestal. "BEST STATE," reads the text, with a downplayed "#3" qualifier resting below our hero. Study the GIF for yourself: 

Damn. What does it all mean? That we're the No. 3 best state in the country, that much is obvious.

But as the GIF repeats for the second, third, seventy-fourth time, we have to ask ourselves: Who is this beady-eyed ambassador of Minnesota?

How'd he befriend Paul? Does he ever ride Babe? Can he fly, and if so, at what altitudes? Is he kind to his Wisconsin counterpart, who finished at No. 16? Does Governor Dayton share secrets -- both personal and state -- with him? Is he partially responsible for overturning the ban on Sunday liquor sales? Has he ever met Kent Hrbek? What's his plan for our bird-massacring stadium? Should he be purple to honor our fallen superstar Prince Rogers Nelson? What are his future marketing plans for our state? Do his arms sorta look like dingers? Is he a "he" at all? 

That's a lot to think about. We're taking the rest of the day off to reflect.