In one of the most backhanded opinion pieces I’ve read this political season, last week the Billings Gazette endorsed Rep. Ryan Zinke.
The column urges Zinke to work on the many problems facing the Affordable Care Act and “recognize the good this federal law does in extending health coverage to many thousands of Montanans who otherwise would have no coverage.” Zinke vows to “repeal and replace it” but with what, he won’t say.
The Gazette criticizes his opponent, Denise Juneau, writing, “… on the campaign trail she has repeatedly seemed to be running for a state office, rather than for Congress.” No mention of Zinke’s hollow bids, halfway through his first term as Montana’s sole congressman, for speaker of the house or vice president.
The column questions his unwavering support of Donald Trump but then lets him off the hook because, “Zinke is not Trump.” He’s certainly acted like The Donald in the past, as the Gazette’s own reporter writes:
Before becoming a congressman, Ryan Zinke said there was widespread voter fraud in both national and Montana elections, including a claim that the dead cast ballots.
While election officials deny that voter fraud happens in Montana, Zinke’s comments are in step with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has made claims of rigged elections and raised the profile of fraud concerns leading up to the 2016 election.
The most critical issue facing this planet is climate change but the Gazette, and few others, have pressed Zinke, recently, on his climate change views. The Bozeman Chronicle did during his first campaign for Congress and he said there is “no scientific evidence that … climate change is changing the weather.” The story also notes that in a radio interview Zinke stated, “coal is as clean burning as you can possibly get, which is clean except for CO2.”
Yeah, and cigarettes are good for you except for that nicotine and tar.
But the most vexing line is the last: “Zinke also will need to help rebuild the Republican Party from the rubble of the divisive Trump campaign.” I’m curious to see how this congressional candidate who helped orchestrate the demise of a reasonable Republican Party is going to raise it from the rubble.
Juneau, who would be working with a Democratic president and a party that isn’t nearly as divided, could accomplish so much more in the U.S. House of Representatives.