Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Montana's February wrap-up
This month is calving season, the temperature dropped to twenty below, and Montana contemplated the state quarter, the anti-meth campaign, the economic impact of losing its missile silos and is abandoned by its Air America affiliate. Governor Brian Schweitzer chewed out two UofMT professors who claimed the state could lure business by changing existing environmental and economic laws. It turns out Montana is already one of the most business-friendly states in the union. Pundits find hidden meaning in the governor’s decision to let nine bison roam unhindered outside of Yellowstone National Park, but are generally mum on Schweitzer’s 60 Minutes appearance. Missoula wraps up its Wildlife Film Festival; Environmental groups use Glacier National Park in a bid to halt global warming; the federal government slashes funding for Indian clinics; legislators want to protect the state from Wyoming water; Helena’s Montana State Library bans freedom of speech; and Senator Max Baucus leads a rally against federal plans to sell off Montana public lands to fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. Conrad Burns, our nation’s least popular Senator, was busy in February. Despite an attack ad claiming he wasn’t influenced by Abramoff, Matt Singer found pics of Burns with Abramoff’s Saipan clients. His staff obviously needs the money; they go through nearly $200 a day on meals alone, working up appetites by scrubbing Wikipedia of Burns’ scandals. Even Montana students offered Burns a bribe in an effort to halt cuts for university programs. Look for more Burns corruption news as a “shady” company with ties to the senator is coming under scrutiny. A Rasmussen poll shows Burns is behind Democrat Morrison and even with Democrat Tester, which is big trouble for the junior senator. Undaunted, Burns files for his Senate seat, bucking inside-the-Beltway gossip and hitching his trailer to the sinking presidency. Burns opens his campaign against Democrats by accusing them of not having any ideas. It turns out Burns has no ideas of his own. Oh yeah, it also turns out Burns is a supporter of the loopy “Constitution Restoration Act,” which would prohibit courts from reviewing any case involving a government officer or agent's "acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government." In political news, Burns tangles with former Republican governor and RNC chair, Marc Racicot over a payment package for Libby victims of asbestos poisoning. Racicot turns his back on his hometown, while Burns vows to fight for Montanans...which he does, Burns-style, by entertaining lobbyists at $2K - $4K a head at the exclusive resort, and slashing health-care for the elderly and infirm. Not to be outdone by Montana’s junior senator, Republican state representative John Sinrud leverages himself some extra cash; his wife defends her husband by comparing his stint at the state legislature to a combat tour of Iraq. Primary season is almost upon us. While Montana bloggers are still tepid on Dem. Sen. candidate John Morrison, they are heartened by a vow to concentrate attacks on Conrad Burns. Meanwhile, the other candidates, Jon Tester and Paul Richards, participate in an online interview on foreign issues, more foreign issues, and on CAFTA. MyDD publishes a lengthier interview with Tester, which inspired the Daily Kos to urge readers to donate to his campaign.