Tester-Burns Debate in Great Falls, Part 1

Wow. This is amateur hour in Great Falls. I bet the kids at C-Span are impressed with this show. Perhaps finding someone who knows how to use a microphone might have been a good strategy for the moderator. The panelists look terrified as well, which is fun.

Burns Opening: Conrad pointedly doesn’t thank Tester in his opening. He does seem sober, which is a nice change of pace.

Tester Opening: Kind of awkward Burns style pork he’s brought to the city opening…preempts the attack on Malmstrom, which will inevitably come.

Question 1, for Tester: 30% of GF economy–what actions to retain and expand?

Tester: Will work to get a flying mission back here, has to be a key player in securing borders. North Korea threat…need missiles at Malmstrom. Connects to his family, 77 missile silos in his district.

Burns: Burns has somehow made decisions about Malmstrom to prevent it from being cut, despite admitting that they 1991 BRAC led to reductions. Deterrence, rogue nations…peace through strength…jesus!

Tester: Bad idea. Tester got $100,000 to support Malmstrom.


Question 2, for Burns: What Do We Need to do in short and long term to deal with every threat known to humanity?

Burns: faceless, shadowy….FEAR! Burns misattributes FDR quote about ‘nothing to fear but fear itself.’ So, if terrorists win by scaring us, why do you and Bush keep trying to terrify us? FEAR, FEAR, FEAR! Terrorism started back in 1964 at Munich…uh, since you’ve repeated this talking point 1000 times, shouldn’t you know it was 1972?

Tester: expand special forces, intelligence. Diplomatic pressure on Iran and NK. War in Iraq diverted us from Osama bin Laden–taken our focus off war on terror.

Burns: Burns now concedes that we took our attention from Afgahnistan…and asserts that UN tropps are there! (uh….NATO?)


Question 3, for Tester: Budget priorities of your opponent

Tester: My priorities are education, health care, fully funded Children’s health, tax credits for insurance.

Burns: First priority: national defense, then how we compete internationally, research, nano-sciences. (So ahead of health care, education, and social services, we prioritize nano-science?)….then entitlements, then education.

Tester: We need to empower the middle class.

Question 4, for Burns: Rocky Mountain Front, ANSWER (I assume she means ANWAR)

Burns: Energy Bill of 2005. “I was the one who got into the 2002 Farm Bill for Renewables.” Interesting that Burns won’t answer the question….could it be because he flip-flopped on the RMF? For ANWR, little bitty footprint.

Tester: Tester doesn’t go after Burns for not answering…pretty generic talk about renewables. RMF is too precious to be drilled on.

Burns: Why would you vote against project in Bull Mtns, if youfavor coal gassification?


Question 4, for Tester: What Should Be the Top Three Priorities for Farm Bill?

Tester: 1) Losing People Off the Land in Agriculture–insurance program doesn’t work for family farmers, 2) Energy component, 3) Revolving Loan Program for Businesses to Develop Ag Products here. (frames in context of food security)

Burns:  Got to reform conservation programs. Makes the odd ‘organic’ dig at Tester–odd that they think this is a winning issue. No real talk about what this reform means. Grain, cattle markets are good.

Tester: farmers would rather make money from market than subsidies, ethanol


Question 5, for Burns:  What Will you Do in the future to deal with higher ed costs?

Burns: Burns talks about refineries…because, I take it, of a conversation with a guy at a refinery. No answer at all about the future plans…just a litany of money (with no specifics) he has brought to Montana schools.

Tester: Nice connection to his family…loans for Carroll and UM. Argues for increased pell grants, low interest loans, work options, give assistance to students in high demand fields (

Burns: Pell grants have gone up more than anything in the last six years…Ed Kennedy wanted to increase interest!


Question 6, for Tester: Estate Tax

Tester: Raise limit to 5 million and make it permanent.

Burns: Claims that Tester is changing his position–if we don’t make tax relief permanent, by 2011, $18,000 income will increase 48%. No answer to the estate tax…does he even know what he is talking about? What a complete, utter moron. I take back what

Tester: As a novice debater, talk not to falsify…to bad Burns doesn’t know that.


Question 7, to Burns: Have you lost touch with Montana?

Burns: I come home every other weekend. Knows all the challenges we know in Montana. To be honest, Burns best moment in the debate. Actually sounds sincere–good thing he’ll have more time to spend here soon.

Tester: Wow. I sure hope that the newspapers report about the rude Burns supporters in the audience–I hear that’s critical. Tester talks about his family on this throwaway question.


Question 8: Burns Asking Tester: Place emphasis on support for Malmstrom. Why take money from Council for a Livable World?

Tester: My vote can’t be bought. CLW wants to stop nuclear proliferation. Critical for our national security. Will not let them go away–I have produced in Montana senate.

Burns: SENIORITY! Chairman of Commerce Committe next term. PORK!

Question 9: Former staffers, then lobbyists…time to stop revolving door?

Burns: 18 months of picking on me. There’s nothing there.

Tester: $100,000 in legal fees…there’s something there.


Burns Closing Remarks

People who do nothing make no mistakes. I speak without thinking…sorry. Why are they picking on me? One of his operatives said “We can’t beat Burns on the issues…we need to destroy his character.” NeverTester stepped up to say Jon was not telling the truth. Claims Tester raises taxes. “No one has done more on meth than me.” Sweet Jesus, this man is insane. Somehow, he controlled federal spending. Now he connects Baucus to himself…thanks, Max.

Tester Closing Remarks

College Tuition Tax, most egregious tax of all–$30,000 per person. Even the President says Iraq is going the wrong way. Health care needs to change. Most importantly, fiscal responsibility: we cut taxes on 32,000, funded education, health programs. Tester will represent Montana first.

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.

Subscribe to our posts

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.


Click here to post a comment

Please enter an e-mail address

Send this to a friend