On Thursday, March 20, “NBC Nightly News“ featured a reminder that for conservatives, there are no final victories.

The issue at hand isn’t the Nanny State, it’s the Carcinogen State. Specifically, CFL light bulbs containing ultra-toxic mercury, cheered on by the Greens, and now mandated by the federal government.  And so a race is going to begin.  Politicians eventually will move to undo this idiocy through legislation; but in the meantime, the pols will likely be lapped by the trial lawyers, rushing to make billions through litigation.

Mercury, of course, has been implicated as the toxic culprit in everything from birth defects to Alzheimer’s.  There’re reasons–good reasons–why environmentalists have spent the last century trying to clean up mercury; that’s why people are are shying away from tuna, for example, and other large sea fish.   And yet now the feds are mandating a switch over to CFL’s in the next eight years.NBC Anchorman Brian Williams is a dutifully p.c. MSM-er, so he sort of played the story for laughs—rueful laughs.  He began by describing the “small, squiggly” CFL bulbs, being careful to note that “some of US are using and that we’re all going to have to switch to by 2016”   But then, having made sure that he got credit with his Manhattan Green friends, he added, there’s a “cost to good intentions.”

Williams then tossed it over to reporter John Larson, who described mercury—contained inside each and every CFL bulb—as “One of the most poisonous substances on earth. Break one of these at home, and you’ve got a problem.”  And he introduced us to a woman in Maine who broke a CFG bulb, and was told that she would have to bring in a hazmat firm that would charge $2000 for the cleanup.  This particular case has been reported on before, but by now pretty obvious that stories of “Superfund in Your Living Room” are not an urban legend, but are as real as the phenomenon of heavy-metal toxicity.As Larson explained, the federal government has put forth an “eleven-step do it yourself program that looks a lot like toxic waste cleanup—because that’s what it is!” In fact, 400 million CFL bulbs are being sold a year and eventually, no matter how long they last, they will need all to be disposed of.  So where to put these mercury-laden CFLs? “Not in the trash, too poisonous” answers Larson.  Instead, he reports, take them to a recycling facility—and he shows a man driving up in his car, just to drop off one bulb.   Now how much energy is used up that way, schlepping bulbs to some center somewhere?  And what is going to happen when there are billions and billions of such bulbs everywhere–breaking, shattering, whatever-ing.But it’s all for good, on balance, NBC’s Larson cheers: “And try to take comfort—energy advocates agree your new CFLs are still overall, the right thing to do for the planet.  Just don’t drop them.”  Got that?

The experts tell us that potentially poisoning your household, and definitely jeopardizing the immediate environment, is less important than the long run issue of global warming. I will predict that this poison-light bulb mandate is going to be undone soon enough, as we either go backward to incandescent bulbs or forward to LED’s.And yet if the CFG mandate lasts for any period of time, because the Greens dig in their heels, it is going to be remembered as the biggest government-mandated disaster since forced-school-busing, or wage-and-price-controls, or mandated asbestos in construction (the past mandate that this present mandate most closely resembles).A few politicians have taken notice of this insanity, but not many.   If the Greens have stacked most of their political chips on the issue of global warming, at the expense of other “Silent Spring”-type concerns, well, then, the normal risk-averse politician is not going to go against Scientific Wisdom.

So what to do?  Someone should write an open letter to Al Gore.    Perhaps someone from Minamata, Japan, where the whole wide world first came to see the horrors of mercury poisoning.In the meantime, with apologies to Tennyson, one is reminded of past folly: “Forward the Light Bulb brigade/Was there a Green dismayed/The people did not know/That someone had blundered.”

Update: In the meantime, a new ad campaign , offering a rowdy populist message, featuring a pitch for CFLs, is all over the blogosphere, including on many conservative sites.  This is going to be a big campaign, with Greens spending hundreds of millions, if not billions–all so that we can poison ourselves at home.