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Letter: Bureaucrats shouldn't use Paul Bunyan to sell insurance

Paul Bunyan, to those in our Greater Minnesota communities, is a symbol of strength, perseverance and pride -- particularly in our timber industries. Statues of Paul Bunyan and his blue Ox, Babe, are found in Bemidji as well as Brainerd in Paul Bunyan Land, which is an area I represent in the Minnesota State Senate. Many of our wonderful assets and attractions in Greater Minnesota are named after him. Places such as the hundred miles of Paul Bunyan State Trail from Brainerd to Bemidji and the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway.

Recently, state bureaucrats and an out-of-touch public relations firm decided to use our Greater Minnesota icon in an advertising campaign to sell government-organized health insurance -- the new MNsure program. This recently-passed legislation is part of the federal government's health care reform effort that requires individuals to buy health insurance.

Paul Bunyan is a proud symbol for the people of Greater Minnesota, but the way the campaign is portraying him -- as an accident prone insurance nightmare -- does not reflect kindly on our communities who respect this treasured symbol as part of our great tradition and heritage.

In addition, the advertising campaign features Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, in a variety of situations that are quite frankly, inappropriate and wrong.

I agree with Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht who said these ads are offensive.

In the ads, Bunyan manages to water-ski into a tree, have his head pecked in half by woodpeckers, and lodge an axe in his leg. In one particularly offensive ad, Bunyan slides down a hill and ends up with a tree between his legs. In one commercial, you can hear Paul tell Babe to, "Get your blue ox over here."

This $22 million advertising campaign of taxpayer dollars is plain wrong and ineffective. This MNsure advertising campaign is just the latest of wasteful spending by St. Paul bureaucrats.

Paul Bunyan is a Minnesota icon and should not be used as an actor hired to sell insurance by the government. He's a symbol of pride for Greater Minnesota residents and I fear he has been made into a punch line in this ill-conceived marketing campaign.

Minnesota is not the land of 10,000 accidents. We're the land of 10,000 lakes and one poorly thought out marketing campaign.

Carrie Ruud

State Senator, District 10

Breezy Point, Minn.