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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Kerry drank bottled water before he didn't 

Tomorrow's issue of The New York Times Magazine, not yet available online [UPDATE: Here it is], features a long article by Matt Bai on Kerry's ideas about how to fight the war on terrorism. I may or may not write something about the substance of Kerry's ideas later, but this passage was so laugh-out-loud funny I leapt to my laptop to write it up:
On an evening in August, just after a campaign swing through the Southwest, Kerry and I met, for the second of three conversations about terrorism and national security, in a hotel room overlooking the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica pier. A row of Evian water bottles had been thoughtfully placed on a nearby table. Kerry frowned.

"Can we get any of my water?" he asked Stephanie Cutter, his communications director, who dutifully scurred from the room. I asked Kerry, out of sheer curiousity, what he didn't like about Evian.

"I hate that stuff," Kerry explained to me. "They pack it full of minerals."

"What kind of water do you drink?" I asked, trying to make conversation.

"Plain old American water," he said.

"You mean tap water?"

"No," Kerry replied deliberately. He seemed now to sense some kind of trap. I was left to imagine what was going through his head. If I admit that I drink bottled water, then he might say I'm out of touch with ordinary voters. But doesn't demanding my own brand of water seem even more aristocratic? Then again, Evian is French -- important to stay away from anything even remotely French.

"There are all kinds of waters," he said finally. Pause. "Saratoga Spring." This seemed to have exhausted his list. "Sometimes I drink tap water," he added.(italics in original, bold added)

The problem with John Kerry is that he can't afford to just be himself, because the real John Kerry is incredibly weird and neurotic.

Once you finish laughing over his water nuance, though, you have to give him credit for knowing a lot about bottled water. Here's the content of Saratoga Spring:

Spring Water Analysis (parts per million)
Calcium 11.0
Magnesium 2.2
Potassium .65
Sodium 7.2
Chloride 9.4
Fluoride 0
Sulfate 7.1
Bicarbonates 26.0

And here's the stuff of Evian:

Spring Water Analysis (parts per million)
Calcium 78
Magnesium 23
Sodium 5.5
Potassium .75
Chloride 2.2
Bicarbonates 357
Sulphates 10
Nitrates 3.8

Heh.

6 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Oct 09, 04:11:00 PM:

Bai's imaginary Kerry internal monologue is so dead on.

Kerry's such a mush.

Rob A.
(F?WF?)  

By Blogger Rob, at Sat Oct 09, 11:03:00 PM:

Very funny!  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Sun Oct 10, 12:03:00 PM:

From Asheville's own Mountain Xpress:

"The most extensive report on bottled water to date comes from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental watchdog group. Their thorough study concluded that average bottled water is probably not worse than average tap water – in fact, a lot of bottled water is tap water.

That said, there are two significant regulatory issues that affect bottled water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires public water supplies to meet strict standards and undergo continuous monitoring and frequent testing. Failure to meet those standards triggers serious enforcement measures, and the EPA has hundreds of staffers assigned to this effort. But bottled water is governed by far less stringent Food and Drug Administration regulations, and testing is performed only once a year. Furthermore, the FDA has no official procedure for rejecting contaminated water sources and doesn't even have one full-time employee in charge of bottled water. in addition, any container material that was approved before 1957 isn't subject to testing or regulation. So unless the water crosses state lines, there's no federal regulation whatsoever.

And once bottled water leaves the plant, no further testing is required. That, it turns out, is a problem because plastic containers give off chemical contaminants. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment conducted one of the few chemically comprehensive tests reported to date, examining 80 samples of bottled water from retailers and manufacturers in that state. According to a story by investigative reporter Brian Howard ("What's in Your Bottled Water?" Aug. 28, 2003 Hartford Advocate), "All 80 had detectable levels of chlorine, fluoride and sodium. Seventy-eight of the 80 contained nitrate (which can cause methemoglobinemia, or blue-baby syndrome), 12 had nitrite, 53 had chloroform, 33 contained bromodichloro-methane, 25 had arsenic and 15 tested positive for lead.

"Forty-six of the samples contained traces of some form of the carcinogen (and hormone disrupter) phthalate, while 12 of those exceeded federal safety levels for that chemical."  

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