The signs are there: the clammy palms, the shifty eyes, the nervous twitching. I know it’s hard to admit to yourself that a loved one has an addiction, but if you’re not willing to step in and help them, you may lose them entirely.

So it’s time we admit it to ourselves – Portland media has a meth problem.

It’s not like they’re doing speed bumps off KOIN 6 anchorman Jeff Gianola’s ass or anything, but it’s only a matter of time.

Methamphetamines are a citywide problem, there’s no doubt about that, but they always have been. It’s not a new phenomenon. Portland, just like every other city, town, burg, village, project and trailer-park in the country, has a problem with meth. It’s cheap, addictive and, to many, just fun. Anywhere boring and underpaid people live you can find glossy-eyed addicts walking the aisles of a 24-hour grocery, picking scabs and buying grape soda. It doesn’t make it any less horrific, but in a media environment where fear, scandal and sensationalism dictate what leads, meth has found a new home in television news.

Just spend an evening with KOIN 6 – or worse, Fox 12. Every story has to have the methamphetamines tie. It’s enough to report on the meth problem, but the need to work it into every story is pathetic. Hundreds of pieces of mail stolen? One of the perpetrators was a meth user. Dead Pope? Meth-addled Catholic. Childhood cancer? Meth users mugging cancer kids. Kitten in a tree? Meth user.

If you listen closely enough you can pretty much assume methamphetamines are the root cause of every problem in the nation, if not the world.

The main problem here is not sensational journalism, which is shitty enough on its own, but the fact that the sensation is leaking out. The media, unsatisfied to rely on our existing paranoia, are intent on creating a new one. Much like how after September 11, 2001, people were seeing terrorists everywhere, now meth users are bogeymen. They lurk around every corner and they’re out to jack your car, kill your kid and blow up your house. And it lets lawmakers slide by with a new buzz-concept. Because of the meth craze, people quit asking Governor Kulongowski why he is completely ineffectual. Thanks to meth he can pretend he’s doing his job.

Wayne Kruger, chairman of the Oregon House Judiciary, responded to questions concerning the recent annulment of thousands of same-sex marriages with, “We have the budget and this meth situation at the top of our list, we’re going to have our hands full.”

So basically, as soon as we find a way to pull the missing $900 million out of our asses and handle this minor drug problem then we can get to basic civil rights for all Oregonians. That’s like saying as soon as I figure out the nature of the universe I’ll make you dinner.

There’s no piece of legislation those trained monkeys in Salem can come up with that will solve the problem of methamphetamines, and it’s ridiculous to think so.

What’s frustrating is how clearly the craze reveals the limited scope of Portland’s media. Meth is a long-term problem, and one that is a symptom of a larger trend. But rather than explore the elements that cause these situations, the media are content in just making a big funny deal out of it. That is until something better comes along. Just like any other addict, their fancy is a tough one to curry, and a hard one to maintain. So all of you cooking Sudafed in your kitchen enjoy your time in the spotlight, because I hear OxyContin is coming back in a huge way.

Dylan Tanner can be reached at [email protected]