My wife came downstairs, wondering why I was yelling and cursing at my iPhone. It was Senator Daines on the other end holding one of his “tele-town hall” meetings. It’s focus was Montana fires. He couldn’t hear my rants but they were somewhat cathartic.
Calling it a town hall meeting would be a lie. There were no towns or halls involved. It was a choreographed phone-in Q and A with prescreened questions and canned answers.
You probably didn’t know this but the wildfires plaguing the West are caused by “activist judges” and “radical environmentalists.” That’s according to renowned fire ecologist and climate scientist, Steve Daines.
Those two adjectives, activist and radical, came up over-and-over again — no mention of the role of fire in forest ecosystems, of prescribed burns, of reforestation or Forest Service best practices — and definitely no discussion of climate change.
One deferential woman from Bozeman was able slip climate change into her question.
“We won’t have a debate on climate change tonight,” the Senator responded.
That was it.
All the other callers were toeing the line: we need more logging, fewer regulations and less litigation.
I was in the queue to ask a question but never got the chance. Had I given a bogus name, not mentioned Missoula as my hometown and posed a phony question to the woman screening the calls, I might have had a chance.
In real town hall meetings, lying isn’t a prerequisite to asking a question.