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The 5 most importantly odd debates that came up during the GOP’s platform debate

Workers build a platform at the Republican convention site. (AP Photo/Mark Gillispie)
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Every four years, activists in the two major parties get together to rebuild their policy platforms to reflect the political moment. It's ostensibly a way to delineate the central tenets of the party, but bears little real-world influence. (Mostly, it seems, platforms are used by members of the other party to impugn political opponents.)

Since 2016 is 2016, the platform fights on both sides of the aisle have gotten an unusual amount of attention. On the Democratic side, supporters of Bernie Sanders embraced the opportunity to move the stated positions of the party to the left (though how many politicians move with it remains to be seen). On the Republican side, observers would be forgiven for wondering about the extent to which a party now helmed by this Donald Trump character might shift to reflect his own personal policy guidelines.

We got our first answer to that on Monday, as GOP delegates tasked with setting the platform got to work. If you were looking for Trumpian undertones to the proceedings, there weren't many to be found. If you wanted weirdness, though: Jackpot.

The party didn't give copies of the proposed amendments to reporters in the room, so we've cobbled together some highlights from their Twitter accounts. Cited below are Zeke Miller of Time, Ginger Gibson of Reuters, Rosie Gray from BuzzFeed, The Atlantic's Molly Ball, Igor Bobic of the Huffington Post and our own Ed O'Keefe. The five best proposals are listed below, in the order they were introduced. This list is final.

1. Junk food.

The first topic addressed and disposed of dealt with commercial fishermen; they have been given a thumbs up, it seems. But immediately the group got into turbulent water (to continue the theme), as a proposal to curtail the use of food stamps to buy junk food was considered.

This seems ... Bloombergian? If you've ever criticized the former mayor or New York for wanting to limit sugary beverages but also want to fight over whether or not poor people can use supplemental nutrition assistance (SNAP benefits) to buy ginger ale, well, you're not being terribly consistent. Why ginger ale? Tummy aches.

Anyway, this was not added to the platform.

2. Porn is bad.

A proposed amendment argued that pornography is "a public health crisis that is destroying the life of millions." There were a number of proposals centered on sexuality, including one supporting the controversial practice of "conversion therapy" for gays and another looking at adopting North Carolina's transgender bathroom law as a core party principle.

At the end of the first day, a woman who identified herself as the first openly gay member of the committee asked for the repeal of anti-gay-marriage planks.

It didn't pass.

The porn amendment did, however, despite the quick rebuttal it would have offered opponents.

(Greenman is referring to this.)

3. Teaching the Bible in American History class.

As soon as reporters revealed this proposal, it rippled over social media nearly as quickly as you would have expected.

The idea is an offshoot of the long-held idea that prohibitions on teaching religion in school could be overcome by using the Bible as an example of a literary text. Most of the critique, though, centered on the forum that was proposed: The American history?

Delegates had other concerns.

In the end, the platform committee decided to keep the Bible in the platform.

4. Protecting America from the (sort of) threat of an electromagnetic pulse attack.

Have you ever seen "Ocean's 11"? Remember when Don Cheadle and his horrific British accent put that big fish-tank-thing in the back of the white van and set it off, knocking out power in Las Vegas? (Oh, uh: Spoiler alert?) That mythical thing was an electromagnetic pulse bomb.

EMPs have come up in this presidential election before, thanks to Rick Santorum and Ben Carson mentioning the possibility of an EMP strike in a January debate. The idea is that an enemy of the United States -- say, North Korea -- might detonate a nuclear explosion over the United States that, like Cheadle's bomb, takes out power in a wide swath of the country. A nuke test in 1962 knocked out power in parts of Hawaii temporarily.)

This is an idea that Newt Gingrich made famous in the 2012 campaign. And it's an idea that arose again in the Republican platform debate.

Scientists agree that protecting our infrastructure so that it can withstand the effects of an EMP-type attack makes sense -- mostly because our infrastructure remains vulnerable to things like coronal flares, which could have the same effect. They don't generally agree that North Korea is going to explode a nuke over the United States instead of just exploding it in, say, New York City.

5. Refusing to save the sage grouse

A sage grouse is a dumb-looking bird that lives in the sagebrush in the western United States. As with all dumb living things, it is considered rude to wipe the sage grouse out of existence. But development and mining in the bird's breeding habitat have threatened to do exactly that, prompting the government to consider labeling it as endangered. Had it done so, a great deal of the bird's habitat would have similarly been protected -- land that would otherwise be usable for economic purposes. (The government eventually decided not to do so.)

The battle over the sage grouse has raged for years, as has the debate over the prairie chicken, which is less dumb-looking, though not by much. And the Republican platform committee decided to introduce the topic for discussion. The grouse and the chicken have become symbols of the tension between the government, environmental groups and development, and some Republican party delegates hoped to formalize opposition to protecting them.

But mostly the reporters thought it was funny.

It passed.

And that was just a subset of the first day. Stay tuned.