Big news from South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem: I'm on meth

The whole state is, it turns out. And why not. There’s nothing else to do there.

Get it? “On meth” has two meanings! Drug users are “on” the drug but South Dakota is “on” the problem with its new anti-meth program.

Yes, yes, I know you grasped the double meaning instantly. Not everyone on social media did, to my surprise; there were “can you believe this?” tweets aplenty in my feed this afternoon as the new slogan made the rounds. I shudder to think of how many people watched Kristi Noem explain it and thought, “Ohhhhh.”

The problem is that the slogan is so arresting that even after you’ve grasped the double meaning it retains its jarring weirdness. First reaction: “What?” Second reaction: “Okay, yeah, I see.”

Third reaction: “Really?”

This is what’s going to be on billboards across the state of South Dakota?

It’d be like promoting an abstinence campaign with the slogan “Virgins Are Hot.” Or leading a PSA about the risk of driving on snowy roads with “Don’t Jerk And Drive.” Which was another real South Dakota government slogan.

The punchline is the price tag. The state shelled out nearly half a million dollars to the ad agency that came up with this idea. To put that in perspective, they have just $1 million budgeted for meth treatment services next year and less than that for meth prevention campaigns in schools.

“Just Say No” may have been a glib response to a wrenching problem but at least it contained good advice. South Dakota blew its budget on a slogan that makes it sound like you need to start tweaking to fit in locally.

Here’s the official promo, in which Noem takes a long drag from a glass pipe and says amid coughs, “Never, ever do that.”