Max Lenington is a racist jerk. He is also the Yellowstone County assessor, treasurer and superintendent of schools.
He is not a crook. That is to say, he has committed no crime, tort or major infraction of his bureaucratic oath.
For 45 years he kept his head down and toiled at his desk, a low-level county official and little-known member of the Courthouse crowd.
He decided to go public. A case-hardened Republican and typical Montana redneck, he acted in character. He wrote a letter to The Billings Gazette, announcing his hatred for the president and first lady.
Talk about your dog-bites-man story. Of course he hates Obama. All Republicans hate Obama. It’s a requirement of the GOP Creed. If the president were caught standing on the White House porch handing out sandwiches to starving Ethiopian children, Republicans would find fault. They would insist the trick or treaters were Kenyans and probably Muslim to boot.
Lenington called the Obamas socialist, communist and Leninist. He shamed those who voted for the man not once but twice.
After a storm of protest from the lame-stream, left-wing media the incident might have been forgotten, had not a watchful reader reported that the county assessor, treasurer and superintendent of schools had plagiarized the whole screed.
Plagiarized? More like recycled. All GOP talking points are recycled - a dozen times before the 5 o’clock news. Twenty times the next day. Don’t believe a word until you’ve heard it on Fox six times.
Journalism school grads consider plagiarism deviant behavior. Lenington was denounced by scribblers across the state and throughout the blogosphere. The right-wing nut who wrote the original was notified but did not seem too upset.
County Attorney Scott Twito (a county official with only one title) grabbed a copy of the Gazoo carrying the Lenington hate letter before the ink had dried. He promised to do something. He apparently learned that an elected official cannot be sacked for hating the president. Nor for plagiarism, either.
Recall of a public official requires a public as outraged as the press. The press had yet to reach its flashpoint.
Twito and The Gazette made the next move. A Gazette reporter asked for a bundle of Lenington’s e-mails and the prosecutor obliged.
Is it just me or does this smell like a fishing expedition?
Twito handed over the e-mails and The Gazette found one from Lenington to his sister. She wanted to know why people voted for the dastard Obama. Lenington blamed “queers,” “niggers” and other forms of lowlifes for the re-election of the president.
The Gazette printed only the first letter of the “n-word.” Printing the full slur flung at homosexuals might signify that the Gazette considers a reference to a person’s sexual preference less offensive than a reference to the color of his skin.
Expect this rodeo to produce at least a couple more go-rounds. Those who object to Lenington’s use of the public e-mail will go berserk when they learn that he’s using the taxpayers’ sidewalks to walk to work.
The movers and Quakers who had fallen in love with hating Lenington were ecstatic when the Gazette reported that “Lenington bought $11,000 motorcycle using the government e-mail.”
If you thought this headline says the guy tapped county funds to buy himself an expensive toy, you would be wrong. He paid for the bike himself. Any suggestion that the taxpayers were stuck is just wrongheaded.
Lenington is a jerk and may deserve to be punished. The proper venue for this judgment is the polls. If he is beaten in 2014, he deserves it. If he wins, we deserve him.