The food cops at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) undoubtedly uncorked the distilled water in celebration on Sunday, as The McLaughlin Group aired a segment on Maine’s legislation that would force restaurant owners to add nutrition labels to everything on their menus and menu boards. John McLaughlin introduced the subject to his millions of viewers by saying “In the past 20 years, obesity rates in Maine have increased by 50 percent in adults, 200 percent in children.”

200 percent? We have no idea where McLaughlin got that number. That’s twice as high as CSPI’s much-vaunted (and seldom challenged) 100 percent figure. Both numbers conveniently ignore the federal government’s 1998 redefinition of what constitutes “overweight.” CSPI’s claim that 100 percent more Maine children are obese now (compared to 1980) is about as accurate as Saddam Hussein’s assertion that 100 percent of the Iraqi people voted for him.

It turns out that Saddam himself has been learning from CSPI’s approach to slimming Americans down. CSPI advocates punitive taxes on an ever-growing list of so-called “bad” foods; Saddam Hussein is now taking this logic to its illogical conclusion, opting to directly penalize the svelte-challenged. The Iraqi dictator said last week that he will force a 50 percent pay cut on any government official whose weight “exceed[s] the allowed limit,” as measured during a government-mandated bi-annual physical. Thankfully, even CSPI isn’t empowered to go that far in the U.S. — but we suspect they’d approve.

John McLaughlin says that Maine’s CSPI-inspired legislation “might become a trendsetter.” Let’s hope not. CSPI’s preferred social-engineering tools — fudging facts, using scare tactics, and promoting “twinkie-taxes” — are already enjoying too great a global reach.