Friday Quick Hits: Daines & Quayle, Rehberg, Montana Watchdog and More

If you didn’t have the chance to read Dave Stalling’s commentary on Dennis Rehberg’s federal land grab bill, you really owe it to yourself to go read it. The whole piece is excellent, but this was an especially powerful section: “His [Rehberg’s] proposed law would trample on our basic rights on our public lands, eliminate public involvement in public-land decisions, and diminish the health of public lands and wildlife. It also calls for the expansion of federal government, federal spending and federal control – all things the congressman fervently claims to oppose.”

Speaking of Mr. Rehberg, it seems he’s found himself in a bind over his role as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Jobs, Health and Education, torn between his adherence to anti-spending TEA Party zealots and the real needs of Montanans. So, in typically Rehbergian fashion, he’s punted, according to House Republicans, who admit Rehberg has held up the bill because it will be politically damaging. No doubt consumed by the critical Whitefish Jesus issue, the state’s media hasn’t gotten around to covering Rehberg’s delay.

At the same time, Senator Jon Tester had his best fundraising quarter ever, pulling in $2 million over the past three months. One hopes Representative Rehberg will remember to file his report this time.

Steve Daines got a little excited about meeting another outsourcing millionaire this week, claiming that Mitt Romney’s visit to 200 people during a private event was the “largest political event in Montana history.” Personally, I remember seeing Bill Clinton speak to capacity, public crowds in 1992 and 2008, Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton filling the Butte Civic Center in 2008, and even Dan Quayle (he had clammy hands) visiting Billings. Oh, and 18 Presidents have visited Montana, too. Seems like a 23rd generation Montanan might have a slightly better sense of history.

I plan to write a more in-depth look at the Media Matters for America takedown of the right-wing “news” organizations like the Montana Watchdog. When it’s funded by conservatives, written by conservatives, and read by conservatives, it’s probably conservative. Montana media outlets would do well to take any news coming from this source with a healthy degree of skepticism.

In totally unrelated new, the Montana Policy Institute, dedicated to transparency in government, finally released their information about the pay of state employees yesterday, to much fanfare. Unfortunately, their data looks to be either deliberately misleading or entirely incorrect, as many actual state workers have noted. I can’t imagine why a right-wing anti-government group would distort the salaries of state workers–can anyone else think of a reason?

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.

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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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  • Phil Drake of the Montana Watchdog has three or four pieces a week printed in a M-F advertiser here in Dillon called the Dillonite. The “newspaper” is read diligently, mainly for its ads and obituaries. Unfortunately, there’s no refuting anything written in it, including Drake’s columns, because the person in charge of the Dillonite is a Tea Partier who makes sure nothing moderate or liberal gets into the paper.

    It’s pretty sad because here in Dilllon our weekly paper the Tribune is only slightly less right-wing.

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