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Jon Tester Montana Politics

Tester-Burns Debate in Bozeman, Part 1

Opening Statements:

Stan Jones is a lot less blue these days. (Who invited him to this party?). Strong statement against the war and the Patriot Act. It’s interesting that he has been invited, though…seems like a real distraction from the debate, given the poll  numbers.

Conrad Burns opens speaking about himself in third person…must have decided to cut from the royal ‘we’ this week. Heads right into the pork–things he has brought to MSU and the Gallatin Valley. No specifics, mind you…and back to the royal we.

Jon Tester looks a lot like he needs a shave. Tester goes after Burns on pork, makes the point that students and faculty make MSU the institution it is, not Burns. Hits on the issue of costs of college…solid opening.

Question 1, from Bob Gibson, to Jon Tester 1st: 34 Montana projects will receive $371 million in earmarked money from Transportation Bill. Which of those 34 projects is unjustified pork?

Tester: Attacks the concept of earmarks in general–not the way representative democracy should work. 34 would stand the scrutiny of the whole body. Good answer.

Jones: All of the projects are unjustified projects–violate the Constitution. Illustrates the problem with Jones in the debate; he will provide an easy target for the other two candidates, and allow them to dodge.

Burns: Makes some claim about a rule on the Appropriations Committee–then doesn’t say what it is. Wrong to leave this process up to a faceless, nameless earmark. Awkward to combine his talking points on terrorism and earmarks, isn’t it? Claims there is a lot of scrutiny of these.


Question 2, Andrea Jones to Stan Jones 1st: Renewable Energy

Jones: Nuclear power! Interesting, given that he thinks the govt. shouldn’t be in the business of regulation of industry. Must reinstitute nuclear power. Coal! If government got out of the way, we’d be into it–government over regulates.

Burns: We opened up more areas with the Energy Bill. Claims that agriculture will happen. 11 million acres has been identified in Montana…no explanation for why he gave huge sums to Big Oil. Newsflash! Oil is traded as a world commodity! (Goes over time again)

Tester: Mentions his desire to plant safflower back home. Mentions that Burns has taken more money from oil companies than any other Senator–too late. Answer needs to come up front, to counterpoint the initial Burns statement.

Burns Rebuttal: Incentives for renewables and oil–give them the incentive. Urgh? Eh? Energy Bill created windmills near Judith Gap.


Question 3, Cole Arthun to Senator Burns 1st: Role of Federal Government in Tuition.

Burns: Burns worked on tax credit for tuition. “We got that through, by the way.”  I was the one who got the bill through for tax credits for tuition. Eh! Claims that tuition has gone up under Tester, and that Tester loves taxes—insane? Drunk? Rambling nonsense…no specifics, no details. Now explains that there are other costs for college–like books and transportation.

Tester: Opens with a quiet, irrelevant story about people in his family going to college. Meanders over to Burns on loans (no details), Pell Grants, loan forgiveness. Disappointing answer–an easy chance to nail Burns and it just doesn’t come. Sigh.

Jones: Attacks Senator Burns for stealing his line about government spending. Why are college professors getting $40,000 salary increase?!? No longer need a very expensive person standing in front of a class. Moves to homeschooling and the Internet–can educate kids for $200/year. Wow–great idea inviting him to this forum.


Question 4: Bob Gibson to Jon Tester 1st: If Democrats take over the Congress, should Congress consider impeachment?

Tester: Bit premature to say impeachment, but there should be investigations. Tester says he will focus on issues important to Montana. Ridiculous question that doesn’t leave much room for discussion or debate, just repeats a fearmongering rightwing talking point. Tester wanders off to a series of unrelated points.

Jones: Bush has created many impeachable offenses: executive orders, most likely President to exercise some of those orders. Must be impeached to preserve our liberties. No member of Congress (Including Burns) read the Patriot Act before signing.

Burns: President Bush took an oath to protect us. Now Burns wanders off to the Patriot Act, then jobs brought to Montana. Only terrorists, suspected terrorists, the Mafia, and drug kingpins have given up freedoms under the Patriot Act. Wall goes back up between DIA/CIA/FBI if we repeal the Patriot Act. Meth Control Act.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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