It’s still true that Minnesotans are nice. But don’t push it.
That was the lesson handed to a Washington Post reporter (forever to be known in this state as “that Christopher Ingraham”) when he published a list of the most desirable counties to live in.
He used federal data on climate and topography to create the list. The end result of this analysis put six Minnesota counties among the 10 worst to live in nationwide.
Cue the mild-mannered outrage.
Fifteen minutes after Ingraham published the list on the Post’s “Wonkblog, ” the first of many Minnesotans to take to their keyboards in collective indignation against this latest East Coast newspaper hate crime (#Grapegate, #neverforget) gave Ingraham a virtual PFFT!
“As someone who grew up in the heart of ‘ugly country’ on this map, I hereby declare this map garbage, ” tweeted Minnesotan Matt Privratsky.
A sustained flurry of mostly humor-filled complaints followed on Twitter, Facebook and the Post’s “Wonkblog,” where Ingraham writes.
Some Minnesotans tweeted pictures of lovely Minnesota scenes under the hashtag #ShowMeYourUglyCounties, mocking his analysis.
A local TV station in the Red River Valley ran a story with the headline “#1 in Ugly.”
Senator Al Franken told Ingraham that a survey in the senator’s office found that the ugliest place to live was the Washington Post newsroom.
Ingraham blamed scientists working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They devised the “natural amenities scale” to measure which rural areas would grow and which would lose population, assuming people were largely drawn to warmer areas over time. The rankings were based on climate, topography and water area.
California’s Ventura County ranked highest. Nine of the 12 worst counties were in the Red River Valley along the Minnesota-North Dakota border.
Some other states like Wisconsin and Delaware fared poorly, too, but Ingraham said he didn’t hear much complaining from people living there.
He wrote about the Minnesotan indignation in a second post, wondering why people here were so upset.
“I’m feeling pretty beat down, ” he said Wednesday.
Good thing he didn’t go to Red Lake County, which landed in last place on his list.
“He can kiss my butt, ” Red Lake County official Chuck Simpson said of Ingraham. “We were talking about it at coffee the other morning. What a joke.”
The methodology behind the listing doesn’t make sense, Simpson said. The reliance on mild winters and bright sun meant Death Valley listed fairly high, for example.
“I’m looking out my back window here, ” Simpson continued while talking on the phone Wednesday. “I’ve got a doe and two fawns eating out there right now. Is this ugly? I’ve got hummingbirds flying around the cotton pickin’ place!”