Montana Gov. Schweitzer blocks Tea Party’s dirty water, dirty energy bills with ˜VETO branding iron

ThinkProgress has the story and the must-see video.  This is impressive messaging and branding — literally and figuratively.

Yesterday, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) said much of the legislation his state’s Republican lawmakers are pushing is “in direct contradiction to the expressed will of the people of Montana.” So, as promised, Schweitzer took his red-hot “VETO” branding iron to a stack of GOP bills that range from legislation to weaken Montana’s “clean and green” energy standards “” a highly beneficial tax incentive that encourages clean energy projects “” to a bill that would eliminate same day voter registration. Watch it:

Notably, among the 21 bills vetoed, Schweitzer rejected GOP legislation that sought to open up cyanide gold mining operations “” a process that places citizens in grave risk of cyanide poisoning from contaminated drinking water. Similar proposals have already been rejected by voters in two separate initiatives. Schweitzer also rejected GOP legislation to cap damage awards for motor vehicle accidents, a bill that would forbid schools from allowing abortion-related course materials in sex education, and legislation to repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law.

As negotiations over Montana’s budget are starting to heat up, it’s likely that Schweitzer will need to do the same with his branding iron again.


A ThinkProgress cross-post.

18 Responses to Montana Gov. Schweitzer blocks Tea Party’s dirty water, dirty energy bills with ˜VETO branding iron

  1. Glenn Immer says:


  2. Dave says:

    Unfortunately Schweitzer is no friend of climate hawks.

    He is also putting his messaging skill to work on opening massive new coal mining projects, pushing for coal shipment terminals on the coast, opening our roads to “megaloads” of tar sands mining equipment, and building a pipeline through the state to get tar sands oil to the Gulf.

    Why are conservative democrats better at messaging than progressive democrats? Is it just easier to be macho with conservative messages?

  3. VL Brandt says:

    This is a rare bit of good news– but state budgets are decimated and will be further crippled by ongoing cuts at the federal level, such as STAG grants, which is how states implement new rules from the EPA.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    I was about to say something nice until I read your post, Dave, thanks. Senator Tester, also a Democrat, is no better. That part of the West used to produce some decent politicians, like Mike Mansfield and Frank Church. The recent lurch to unconditional backing of mining and drilling companies is not a good sign. Gold mining, which has trashed northern Nevada, is especially loathsome.

    States like Vermont and Oregon are starting to look like lonely outposts. We may have to accept the fact that even modestly progressive climate legislation, such as charges for mining externalities and removal of tax breaks, is not likely to happen. The corporate middle ground of Pielke et al won’t get us there, either. We may have to wait for external pressures or, worse, much more disastrous climate events.

    The plutocrats are likely to still be in power when climate disintegration accelerates. Whatever the outcome, it won’t be pretty.

  5. Dan MB says:

    Schweitzer is phenomenal at communication. I saw him speak to a couple hundred people at a banquet. The featured speaker was John Edwards (a year before his candidacy). All I remember from Edwards speech was “help poor people”, a message of charity that should be delivered with a hard-headed message to the wealthy: Get out of your enclaves, now, get to know poor people!

    Schweitzer had the post luncheon crowd fired up. I recall most of his speech. He really is behind clean energy but still believes that CCS is viable and that coal can be cleaned up. We need to keep after him with the crippling economics and the destruction to the planet, whether it’s radioactivity, mercury, poisoned groundwater, or earthquakes from sequestration. He’s a sharp guy who’s trying to sustain the better angels of the mining industry. (Or the less devilish…)

  6. Richard Brenne says:

    Sorry Dan MB (#5), while I agree with your conclusions after your comment I expected to see a Wayne Morse (Oregon’s legendarily maverick Senator who always stood for principle) and instead saw a Randy Quaid without the dignity.

    Schweitzer’s no Albert concerning coal, traveling to Washington to bully the people of that state to let his (and Wyoming’s) coal pass through epically beautiful places like the Columbia Gorge on its way to China. Think Progress has a long paragraph about this in their post on that subject six posts below, right below the one with the picture of Pamela Anderson’s – well, never mind.

    By the way, in comments 24 and especially 25 there I get on my West Coast High Horse in honor of Mike Roddy, who understands the geography of corruption and pollution better than any I know. I also honor (and gently skewer, mostly like a Western barbecue, but of tofu) Bill McKibben there, so if either of you are lurking here, please lurk there.

    And I’ll continue by saying that unfortunately most of the great things I had to say about the West Coast aren’t as true for the intermountain states in between, often until one gets to places like Boulder in Colorado and Senators from there like Mark Udall (and his brother NOAA climate change scientist Brad and his Peak Oil expert and ASPO-USA co-founder brother Randy), Tim Wirth and a little south Gary Hart and Colorado’s recent governors as well.

    But in between can be a bit of nightmare, with McCain and Kyl (who said that 90% of Planned Parenthood’s budget goes to abortions [he was off by only 87%] from Arizona, of course Stevens and Palin from Alaska, Cheney from Caspar (where Bill Mahar points out the people are whiter than the ghost of that name), Wyoming and Karl Rove from Utah before the latter two (not including Mahar as far as I know) settled in the state that is the end of the digestive tract of the country.

    And speaking of Texas, at least Schweitzer is figuratively branding wooden objects, because the last president they gave us from there literally branded his fraternity pledges with a glowing hot coat hanger in their butt cracks, foreshadowing his relentless support of torture while doing the same to America.

  7. Richard Brenne says:

    Sorry it’s Tom Kenworthy and Kate Gordon in a CAP repost six posts below, not Think Progress which is this cross-up post. I stand by all my butt crack comments however, at least figuratively.

  8. Richard Brenne says:

    Sorry I started my last two (three!) posts with “sorry.” My mom, wife and now daughter are all Canadian. Sorry.

  9. tst says:

    As a Montanan, I can tell you that both Schweitzer and Tester are infinitely better than their predecessors. Former Governor Judy Martz described herself as a “lapdog of industry.” Former Senator Conrad Burns was another James Inhofe, only nastier – and with a lower IQ. If you want to beat on someone from the Big Sky state, try Sen. Max Baucus, who has all the integrity of a snail, or better yet Rep. Denny Rehberg, who doesn’t believe in global warming.

    Neither Schweitzer nor Tester are perfect, but they’re a vast improvement over most politicians on the national stage.

  10. Richard Brenne says:

    Sorry (four!), one last geographic High Horse coming at you, this time from Oregon. Oregonians need to work to prevent Washington from allowing death trains of coal along the river we share with our less environmentally-friendly neighbor to the north, since plate tectonics is not predisposed to move them far enough away not to affect our side of the river. Their side of the river is definitely beautiful, but ours is stunning, where the lion’s (or beaver’s) share of biggest cliffs, rainforest and waterfalls are (it’s steeper and faces north while their drier side of the Gorge faces south, getting more – theoretically at present – sun).

    Washington has always sought and got more big-time stuff but along with the good comes Boeing’s bad karma defense contracts and by far the Northwest’s largest military bases, including Army, Navy and Air Force bases while Oregon has none.

    Oregon and Portland have often eschewed the stuff that comes with the big time, and it was our Senator Morse (who I mention above) who was one of two voting against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that allowed the Vietnam War to escalate to what it became, Oregon had America’s first and strongest bottle bill, we’re one of the last states without the most regressive sales tax while Washington was one of the first. (Because of other regressive tax laws Oregon is no shining beacon of fairness today, maybe just relative to other states.)

    Portland has one of the nation’s newest and most complete light rail systems, while until recently Seattle’s light rail looked like a legendary Simpson’s episode since it was a Monorail that went for about a block and then made a 90 degree turn to go another block. When my daughter took the train and we caught the light rail to visit her uncle (wheeling her bike and carrying everything else she owned) on her way to college in Canada for the first time, I lost count of the levels we had to climb and drop to get from the Amtrak to the light rail, and couldn’t find my way back without GPS, laptops and most of the UW geography faculty.

    Portland’s downtown waterfront removed our freeway to create the epic Tom McCall waterfront park, while Seattle’s (should be) epic waterfront has a double-decker freeway running the length of much of it through downtown.

    Every inch of Oregon’s coastline is owned and accessible by the public, while Washington’s is much less accessible (also largely due to it being wilder and less accessible, a good thing – I love backpacking on Olympic National Park beaches).

    When I stayed with Mike (and by the way, add to the list of great Westerners CP All-Stars Mike Roddy, Richard Pauli, Leif Knutsen, Jeff Huggins and countless others, though Gail Zawacki and now Ed Hummel are equally epic Easterners [and I have no idea what Aussie coast Mulga and Merrelyn are on, probably East]) on Vashon Island, I noticed the island had been developed with what seemed like less than one per cent of the coast accessible by the public.

    It was all expensive homes with expensive views looking out. I’m not saying Oregon would have done any better when it was developed (first you’d have to barge it down here), but it might have then and certainly would have now. Imagine Vashon or any other island where all of the beaches and coastline are publicly owned and accessible, then there’s a continual footpath circling the island above the highest high tide line, then a bike path, then a small two-lane road, all circling the island, then the homes still have their views, but they’re not blocking the public from enjoying what God or Darwin put there presumably for all to enjoy.

    And hopefully when an Oregonian such as myself visited, he’d fall off his high horse onto the sand.

  11. Richard Brenne says:

    tst (#9) – Sorry (five! [four is in moderation]), of course you know infinitely more about your politicians than I ever will, and that’s a good point. If we are to survive we just need to do all that we can to keep all the coal we can in the ground. So I’ll be turning off my computer now. . .sorry. . .

  12. Alteredstory says:

    @Dave #2 I think part of the reason the Right tends to be better at messaging (and I admit to bias in this) is that they’ve had a much longer-standing effort in propaganda and manipulation. The Left often tries to do their messaging based on what’s real as opposed to what sounds good, and so they miss out on the rhetoric. They also aren’t generally as willing to take the Goebbels approach. I actually see that as a problem – not that we should lie about things, but rather that what he said about repeating lies in a certain way CAN be applied to the truth, and in some ways it’s easier because not only do you have the advantage of a tried and true propaganda tactic, you also have more evidence to say “see, it’s true.”

    We need to stop relying solely on the latter part, I think.

  13. dhogaza says:

    (Because of other regressive tax laws Oregon is no shining beacon of fairness today, maybe just relative to other states.)

    We have a progressive income tax law that unfortunately now operates almost as a regressive flat tax, because the steps in the graduated tax brackets were last changed in the early 1960s … you hit the max 10% rate when your income hits around $10K (after deductions), which was OK back when it was set (my insurance adjuster father made a gross income of about $8K, typical middle class jobs didn’t get you up to the top bracket).

  14. George Ennis says:

    Interesting piece in the Guardian about BP’s idea of independent scientific studies.

  15. Dan MB says:

    Richard and tst;

    I agree with everything you say. As a long time Seattle resident I’m appalled at the gulf between the public and many of our elected officials, including Democrats. Gregoire is lame at messaging and the two Democratically controlled chambers of the state house just caved to our all too plentiful billionaires and made immoral cuts that will make our system not only regressive but heartless.

    I often gesticulate and froth at the mouth when reading about some woeful Seattle project. The words are frequently, when they’re to the level of making sense, “Why can’t these clods go to Portland to see how they do things?” But then I realize that they’d have to be told what they’re looking at: A vibrant waterfront where there was a noisy freeway. Great light rail. Downtown full of people. And I could go on.

    Schweitzer is fine except when it comes to coal and one of the best communicators I’ve encountered. It’s unfortunate, to say the least, that coal could be the coup de gras for humanity and very likely for civilization, Oregon, Washington, or Montana style, before mid-century.


    P.S. Whidbey’s got better public beach access than Vashon, and try the San Juan Islands too!

  16. Prokaryotes says:

    “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Dave #2, and Alteredstory #12, the Right aren’t ‘better’ at ‘messaging’. They are facilitated by the entirely Rightwing MSM, which massages their message, and ignores or vilifies the message of the non-Right. It’s not as if there is a level playing-field, or a ‘battle of ideas’ which the ignorant, imbecilic, Right preposterously claims to have ‘won’. One side, the greed driven, xenophobic and misanthropic Right, has its message drummed into our heads day after day, hour after hour, while the entire universe of alternative ideas and opinions is repressed or, if it emerges to the light of day, is relentlessly vilified and its proponents viciously smeared and slandered. One needs only peruse any of Murdoch’s local rags to see the process in full spate, and it is growly steadily more and more pronounced. Literally scores of public figures, leaders of trade unions, prominent Aborigines, environmentalists, Moslem notables etc, are smeared almost daily, and over repeatedly over the years, with snide innuendo, guilt by association and the taking of statements, often years old, out of context (a News Ltd specialty)to infer personal malevolence. It is the ‘propaganda model’ of the MSM as outlined by Chomsky and Herman allied to a particularly vicious species of the ‘politics of personal destruction’, and it is working. Decent, humane, compassionate people are being driven from public life by their exact opposites. This is the social reality of rule by the worst, the predominate feature of market capitalism in its hideous end-stages.

  18. Richard Brenne says:

    Dan MB (#15) – That’s an incredibly gracious response, thanks. And don’t get me wrong, I think the physical geography of Puget Sound and the Seattle area is the most spectacular of any big city I know of in the world, looking out across the sound at the Olympics, southeast to Rainier and northeast to Baker with the other Cascades in between, then the lakes and hills, and also the Seattle Center and the waterfront, Pike Fish Market area, UW area and many others.

    It’s just that if the cultural geography always matched that physical geography, it would be even more peerless in so many ways.

    And I’m a huge San Juan Island fan, have hitchhiked and bicycled around them since the mid-Seventies, and even met John Wayne coming off his converted minesweeper (he went to private USC) when my friend Kip and I were bicycling from Canada to Mexico (we went to public UCLA).

    I’ve been thrilled by every ferry ride I’ve ever taken, from Vashon Island north and south through the Seattle area, Ports Townsend and Angeles (also incredible areas, our friend Leif living in the former), the Gulf Islands, Port Hardy to Prince Rupert and Seattle to Haines, Alaska and most of these multiple times.

    In fact other than right around the oil refineries in Anacortes and Bellingham and maybe some other industry around Tacoma and south Seattle, there is nothing but heart-achingly beautiful places on the water from Olympia to everyplace in Alaska where Sarah Palin isn’t.

    (Speaking of Sarah [not my daughter Sarah, who is the anti-Palin], it appears she can’t set foot someplace without exploiting it for financial, political and PR gain. I’ve been on many different glaciers on three continents over the last 36 years, and I recognized her as someone who hadn’t come within a stoner’s throw of a glacier before in her epically bad TV show. It looks like she’d only destroyed habitats and the planet with constant air, powerboat, RV, SUV, ATV and snow machine travel, and she flaunted every big-ass carbon footprint device she could in her show. How are those snow machine thingies workin’ for ya in hell?)