Ammonia is on the Periodic Table?

You gotta love Glenn Beck. This guy knows how to bring the crazy. On last night’s show he had a segment on hydrogen-powered cars. You can find a transcript here, about 2/3rds in (you’ll probably want to avoid the first section featuring Ben Stein unless you have vomit buckets handy). So Glenn checks out the car and we come to…

BECK: Yeah, it’s a great car. However, I saw the filling station, and there is giant power grid, you know, sitting there. You’re using all this electricity. How are you going to — how are you not just using electricity, and how are you not going to have environmentalists saying, oh, the spotted clam! You’re using all of the water!

Right. Would anyone short of a complete idiot complain that hydrogen production would cause a water shortage? Of course not. Especially since after you burn it, you get (wait for it) water. But in Beckworld, this sort of thing is not only possible, it’s the way things are. It gets better:

STANEK: You know, there’s a number of things we’re doing. We’re certainly looking into green hydrogen. It could come from biomass sources, the hydrogen. There’s a lot of good starts with natural gas. As you know, natural gas is a lot cleaner, much less particulates than some sources in order to get hydrogen.
You can get hydrogen from a number of sources, even different types of ammonia processes, which are byproducts from production in various facilities, even steel mills.
BECK: But you have — I mean, for instance, ammonia. The guy who started Greenpeace left because Greenpeace said we should banish ammonia, drive to have it banned. It’s on the periodic table! (sic)

OK, let’s ignore whether or not “green” hydrogen production is currently viable and the whole bit about the Greenpeace founder as that could go for quite a bit. Those are too deep for Beckworld. Keeping it simple, we see that in Beckworld, apparently they have a different Periodic Table, one in which ammonia (NH3) is listed. I can only assume that the Beckworld Periodic Table also includes methane, carbon dioxide, coffee grounds, and those little crusty bits that sometimes form in the corner of your eye overnight.
So Beck’s not a chemist. Fine, I’ll give you that. But even if ammonia was on the Periodic Table, what’s the point of his comment? More raving at “crazy environmentalists”? The one’s who will complain that we’ll run out of water if we make hydrogen?
I can only imagine that Mr. Beck is also frequented by visions of giant invisible bats attacking him at night. After all, this is the man who stated to Ben Stein “You are like the smartest guy I know”.

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  1. #1 by Mark P on May 28, 2008 - 6:30 pm

    Well, first of all, Ben Stein probably is, like, the smartest guy Glenn Beck knows. And second, given the first, you hold Beck to an impossibly high standard to expect him to actually know anything. And third, to give him credit, he does actually seem to find his way to the studio, although I suspect he couldn’t find other things with both hands.

  2. #2 by Mike on May 28, 2008 - 8:21 pm

    What happened to the days where news personalities had a clue? Or at least be prepared for the interviews they conduct? Wait a minute–“the days”? It’s sad when a 25-year-old would rather watch 60 Minutes because those guys actually do their homework and act like professionals.

  3. #3 by Brian Schmidt on May 28, 2008 - 8:44 pm

    Glenn Beck is Doug Feith with a different job.

  4. #4 by Blake Stacey on May 28, 2008 - 9:20 pm

    Dang. Ammonia isn’t even on the Periodic Table in Science Made Stupid.

  5. #5 by decrepitoldfool on May 28, 2008 - 9:42 pm

    There are lots of things that are on the periodic table that are “banned” in certain contexts. Arsenic is pretty much banned from drinking water, lead from paint and gasoline.
    Salman Rushdie has been on Beck’s show many times and they seem to be good friends. If Beck thinks Stein is as smart as Rushdie…

  6. #6 by Fastlane on May 29, 2008 - 10:02 am

    I can only surmise that Beck’s periodic table comment was supposed to be some sort of odd perversion of a natrualistic fallacy, maybe?
    It’s on the periodic table, therefore it’s ‘natural’, therefore banning it is a silly liberal commie plot to destroy the world, mom, apple pie and the US of Dumbfuckistan.
    Of course, when it’s pointed out that many animals practice homosexual behavior and it’s therefore natural, that’s not a valid argument at all….
    Yeah, Beck is a dumbass. I’m pretty sure that’s not news to anyone. The question is why is he allowed to bloviate on CNN? Can he not get a job at Faux News?

  7. #7 by Warren on May 29, 2008 - 12:05 pm

    Associating Glenn Beck with the phrase “little crusty bits” made me intensely uncomfortable.
    I’m just glad you kept it to his eyes.

  8. #8 by tincture on May 29, 2008 - 1:55 pm

    Beck is obviously not a smart person, but that’s by choice.

    I can only imagine that Mr. Beck is also frequented by visions of giant invisible bats attacking him at night.

    This is bat country.

  9. #9 by SDC on June 2, 2008 - 9:58 am

    Glenn Beck is one of these dry drunks that may as well crawl back in the bottle, the damage has been done and he has no brain cells left to kill. Jesus turned water into wine specifically for people like Mr. Beck, to keep them from wasting everybody else’s time with their idiocy.

  10. #10 by Skwee on June 15, 2008 - 3:57 pm

    BECK: But you have — I mean, for instance, ammonia. The guy who started Greenpeace left because Greenpeace said we should banish ammonia, drive to have it banned. It’s on the periodic table! (sic)

    Eat plutonium, Beck!

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