Montana Politics Ryan Zinke Steve Daines

The Republican Convention: Bigots and Crackpots, Oh My!

It’s always an adventure when the Republicans come to town for their annual convention, but it does seem more than a bit unfair that Helena has to host them so soon after a legislative session. This year’s event promises to be another entertaining show, given the ongoing war between the “Responsible Republicans” and those Republicans who want to tear down every government building by hand.

Musical Chairs Might Get Ugly

The race for chair of the party promises to be a wildly entertaining fight between Representative Jeff Essman, incumbent technophile Will Deschamps, and Agenda-21 warrior Dan Happel. Deschamps is probably the favorite to hold onto the job, despite his demonstrated inability to hold his party together or craft a message using tools developed after 1904. The most entertaining candidate is no doubt conspiracy theorist Dan Happel, who has the endorsement of such GOP notables as Robert Fanning and Ken Miller, who wrote in support of Happel that “Conservatives all across Montana have become tired and frustrated with the lack of leadership of the Republican Party and I share in those feelings.”

Jeff Essman, who emerged from the last legislative session as a far more sensible, if misguided voice than he has been in the past, has little chance of cracking this juggernaut of candidates, given his slight move towards reason.

Bringing in A Bigoted Loon Might Not Be the Best Idea Right Now

Fresh off the news that Representative Zinke, who has a penchant for radical anti-government support, had to return donations to white supremacists, it may not be [pullquote]Who did Zinke, Daines, and the rest of Montana’s Republicans pick to speak to them? A tiny, angry, racist, homophobic conspiracy theorist who overcompensates for his inadequacies with an obsessive focus on guns, who just happens to be troublingly fixated on bestiality.[/pullquote] the best idea to bring in Texas Representative Louie Gohmert to speak to the body.

Zinke approves, though, posting on his Facebook page how excited he is that “his friend” will be in attendance.

Gohmert is, perhaps, the craziest member of the United States Congress in a century. Among his greatest hits include the assertion that President Obama’s response to the BP oil spill was just like the way Hitler would have responded, that hate crimes legislation will lead to the legalization of bestiality that would, of course, lead to Nazism, that we need to fear Spanish-speaking immigrants more because they are cover for Islamic terrorism, that gun control will lead to bestiality, that taxes are wrong because Jesus didn’t believe in theft, and that the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy threatened the existence of the country.

And don’t forget his paranoid fear about “TERRRRRROR babies.” If you haven’t seen the video, it’s must-see.

And let’s not overlook that Gohmert compared civil rights for African-Americans with rights for insects and lizards at a Congressional hearing.

Who did Zinke, Daines, and the rest of Montana’s Republicans pick to speak to them? A tiny, angry, racist, homophobic conspiracy theorist who overcompensates for his inadequacies with an obsessive focus on guns, who just happens to be troublingly fixated on bestiality.

You can discern a great deal about the Montana Republican Party based on the choice to bring Zinke’s “friend” to Montana: they’ve embraced the anti-rational, anti-humanity fever dream that seems to have captured a fair percentage of today’s conservative movement.

And nothing says you are opposed to bigotry like bringing in your bigoted friend to speak to the party.

Will Gianforte Announce?

Dwarfing even Louie Gohmert’s arrival is the big question of the event: will Greg Gianforte announce that he plans to lose a bid for governor? Will he condemn retirement, science, and equal pay for equal work in that announcement?

Not even the juggernaut of Brad Johnson can stop that train, which left the station awhile ago.

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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  • Have you ever noticed just how obsessed these folks are with bestiality? As if the only thing keeping them from bestiality is the law? I don’t really need a law to tell me not to do that to a creature that can’t consent, but maybe others need more guidance.

  • I shudder to think of the GOP for 2016 campaign ads. It is going to be the biggest trail of lIes ever on television.

  • In 2012, Rick Hill spent over $300,000 in his loss to Bullock, though he did face a primary. Bullock spent slightly less than $80,000 and was left with a warchest of over half a million. Both candidates combined took in slightly more than $300,000. It’s good to note these things if only for this reason: Even if Bullock begins with his fat stacks and adds another $500,000 in donation, his overall warchest will still be significantly less than .1% (that’s point one) of Gianforte’s personal wealth, barring any contributions at all.

    He doesn’t need to present a platform or positions. The only visions he needs to present to the assemblage of Republicants are dollar signs.

    • Oh, sure. If, for some reason he didn’t want to run, they’d probably beg him for two days. I just don’t think he’s likely to beat a successful governor on an agenda of bigotry and telecommuting.

      • I hope there is no angst over me being too flippant (which has happened in the last day) so allow me to clarify. 2016 looks to be a good year for Democrats in Montana, but only if there is a base energized as it was for the federal elections in 2012 and 2008. Amanda Curtis was a very energizing candidate but barely broke 40% against what energizes the right: Rich Man Money. All of the attacks leveled against Daines were hollow because they should have been directed at Gianforte, as they are now. But we already have the baseline for what the Republicants have wanted for over a decade now. They want rich men or identifiable men like Schweitzer actually was (in truth he was both.)

        This convo is Gianforte’s to purchase not with money but with the energy that the promise of money brings. No agenda is necessary, think Tim Fox. Bullock may be successful, but he can’t stand without energy, without turnout. That’s what has me very nervous.

        • Not at all. No worries about any angst here.

          I think you have a valid point, and the media is likely to be even less a watchdog this time around. I just have this feeling that Gianforte is too arrogant to hide his extremist views, where Daines was more willing to dissemble and Fox was able to hide without saying anything at all.

  • Wow! Jeff Esswipe doubles down on the crazy! Interesting the way the ReePukes bring in all these outta state little nazzzi floozies like jnnifer fiddler to bolster their party and do the dirty work! But hey, when you got a guy like louiie goomert working to get god’s stamp of approval for you, what the hell COULD go wrong?
    What a bunch-o-buffoons! Hard to believe. Will they get any traction with Montana voters? Depends. Depends on how many christofascist inbred racist supporters they can attract to Montana! And they’re comin’ by the busload now daily! The new white homeland is getter whiter, and crazier by the day! Time to put Jeezus on our flag! Oro y Plata, and JEEZUS! Works for me!
    The crazy train has left the station!
    p.s. And would y’all please stop picking on that crazy woman ms. fiddler? Mr. Esswipe would really appreciate that! Just because she wants to sell off OUR public lands is NO reason to pick on Esswipe’s lil’ girl!

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, 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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