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Wisconsin's lake count is bullshit

Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

If a political figure says something, that doesn't make it true. Assume the opposite. 

Cases in point: literally anything on this staggering (and growing) list from a senile man who is quite literally regularly seen kinda staggering around, and should be seen by a real doctor (and impeached/indicted).

We've come to expect that kind of bold-faced bragging bullshit from him. We're less prepared for it to come from a low-ranking public official in a Midwestern state. Perhaps we should adjust our expectations.

Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Sarah Meaney was interviewed earlier this month on a radio station, and chose not only to endorse her own state -- as it is her job to do -- but to pick a dumb fight with its neighbor. 

She should regret this. 

"Wisconsin, many people may not be aware, actually has 15,000 freshwater lakes," Meaney told a radio host on Milwaukee station WTMJ. 

Her host asked if this was more lakes than Minnesota, "Land of 10,000 Lakes." Meaney made the mistake of answering. 

"Absolutely," she said. "We win. We win."

Regardless of the odd belief that having more lakes than another place means you've somehow defeated them in a competition -- did you, like, put those lakes there? Or were they there before you showed up? -- there's just one little problem with Meaney's assertion.

And it is that she is wrong.

Politifact, evidently bored with tracking down all the utter nonsense coming from Washington, D.C., decided to wade into these murky waters. We'll get to the science and math answers in a moment, but first, you should know that when asked directly about Meaney's claim, spokesman Craig Trost  had this to say:

"Three facts are undeniable:
1. Minnesota boasts more than 10,000 lakes.
2. Wisconsin boasts more than 15,000 lakes.
3. 15,000 is larger than 10,000."

Craig.

That's not how math works.

Seriously, that reasoning is so impenetrable that we expect Craig Trost to be working for Donald Trump, Fox News, or (let's be real, Pete) both by Monday morning.

Politifact consulted with some actual experts and data, and (despite some hemming and hawing about the slippery definitions of "lake" vs. "pond") arrived at this conclusion:

Based on the federal data: — Minnesota has 124,662 lake/pond features, while Wisconsin has 82,099.
— Minnesota has 8,784 lake/pond features with a name, while Wisconsin has 5,481.
— Minnesota has 14,444 lake/pond features of 10 acres or more, while Wisconsin has 6,176.

You see, Sarah and Craig, Minnesota doesn't just "boast" of having lots of bodies of water. We actually... like, do have lots of bodies of water. So do you! And frankly, neither of us holds a candle to the 50 bajillion lakes in Canada, though the Canadians seem content to enjoy their freshwater without making a big deal out of it.

Does it matter that the woman who said this has a surname one letter away from "meany" and the spokesman who backed her up has a surname one letter away from "trust"? Probably not. But we're just trying to make fun of them at this point, so let's.

Seriously, Wisconsin's a fine state, and has many good qualities, and Minnesota's "rivalry" with them probably doesn't need to exist. They've got a better football history, we have a better economic future. Take your pick.

For the record, Sarah Meaney seems like a decent, upbeat person, and good at her job, which is technically just marketing and therefore inherently involves a lot of lying.

But Sarah? A little advice? Next time? Keep our lakes' names outta your mouth.