The Billings Outpost

Stumbles all around in state political races here

Montana Republicans stand accused of shooting themselves in the foot and the party’s candidates in the back.

Ravalli Republicans shot an outhouse broadside.

Rep. Denny Rehberg shot himself some place. The precise location of the wound has yet to be determined.

David Johnson, a GOP state convention delegate from Manhattan, framed the charges in a guest editorial.

The outhouse was parked outside the GOP convention. A Ravalli County Republican, Dave Hurtt, eventually took credit for it.

The small structure was labeled, “Obama’s Presidential Library.” Inside, a fake birth certificate raised the discredited charge that Obama is not a U.S. citizen. Fake bullet holes were painted on the outside.

Graffiti advised “For a Good Time call 800-Michelle (crossed out), Hillary (crossed out) and Pelosi (circled in red.)”

Will Deschamps, chairman of the Montana Republican Party, said the exhibit was not in good taste  but that  he “was not going to agonize over it.”

Translating Deschamps weasel speak into English, it would read: “It’s in terrible taste, but if you think I want to get into a whizzing match with the mad squirrels from Ravalli, you have another think coming.”

The outhouse remained throughout the weekend to be photographed and giggled over by hundreds of GOP faithful.

Newspaper editors, bloggers and TV talking heads across the nation railed against the outhouse last week. Most said it was a nasty trick and that the Ravallites should not have done it.

Congressman Denny Rehberg’s hip shot was aimed squarely at President Obama’s administration.

A few weeks ago, Rehberg picked up a tale of federal snooping that had already gone sour making the rounds of ultra conservative news sites. In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, he demanded that the use of unmanned drones to spy on Montana farmers and ranchers be stopped.

EPA’s response was short and simple: “We don’t use drones to search for violations of the Clean Water Act. Thank you very much.” Last week, Rehberg used a press flack to admit that he was wrong — and then blamed President Obama for the lie.

“The Obama Administration rarely reveals its secretive plans to anyone but its closest allies. Since Denny doesn’t vote with the President 95 percent of the time, he must often rely on news reports and constituent input,” wrote Jed Link, Rehberg’s spokesman. “In this case, Denny heard from concerned Montanans, saw reports in the media and took the responsible first step — asking the EPA about it.”


I am a great admirer of well crafted lies. This one’s a peach. Instead of admitting to a lie or confessing that his boss is a damned fool, Link uses the retraction to take a shots at the president and at the congressman’s opponent in the current U.S. Senate race, Sen. Jon Tester.

Know your congressional delegation. Try this quick quiz:

1. Which member of the delegation is the cowboyist?

Rehberg, who once raised angora goats, calls himself a rancher. Tester, an organic farmer, says the congressman is also a farmer. Rancher? Farmer? What difference does it make?

In Montana the difference is important, maybe critical. A Montana agriculturalist with 400 acres of sugar beets and two cows might call himself a rancher. His teenage sons will certainly call the home place “the ranch.”  Working on a ranch makes a hired hand or owner a cowboy instead of Ol’ MacDonald.

Answer: Sen. Max Baucus. Baucus, senior member of the delegation, wins the title, but not because he was reared on an authentic ranch.            His bona fides include a claim that is pure platinum. In 1978, Baucus rode a saddle bronc in the Miles City bucking horse sale rodeo. After that, there ain’t no more.

Yep, Max is a lover, a fighter and a wild horse rider. Or at least a wild horse rider.

Incidentally, Baucus could face formidable opposition in 2014. Some pundits speculate that Rehberg might challenge the incumbent if he loses his current race against Tester. Forget about it.

However, there is a candidate who many commentators see as an odds-on primary challenger: Gov. Brian Schweitzer.


Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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