My Interview With Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer

I and my colleague Ben Adler interviewed Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer for CampusProgress.org a few weeks ago, and it went up last night. Ben asked him about his dress code after he famously showed up in D.C. with a bolo tie. After telling us about the jeans he was wearing at the office, I told him he should bring the dress code with him if he ever moves to D.C.

I like what he had to say about the attitude toward politics in the Rockies:

There’s a lot of talk here in Washington about whether the Rocky Mountain West, a traditionally conservative region, is going to open up and turn purple or blue. Do you think it will, and if so, why?

On the East and West Coast people look at the map of the center of the country and they draw lines that are red and blue on it. But people don’t get up in the morning and go off to work thinking they’re red or blue. They don’t sit down with their family thinking they’re red or blue. They don’t go to church on Sunday thinking they’re red or blue. We just don’t think about it that way out here.

In the Rocky Mountain West, we have a tradition of libertarian populists. And out here in Montana, we didn’t like the notion of having this PATRIOT Act that allows the federal government to spy on us and collect a lot of other financial information about law abiding citizens. We didn’t have to see the report come out to see that the FBI would abuse this—every time they’ve been given this power in the past, they have, and they did again this time.

And the greatest thing about Montana and the Rocky Mountain West is that you’re never more than 30 minutes from great trout fishing. You’re never more than 30 minutes from a place where you can hike. You can raise a family, and that family not only will grow up being able to camp, hunt, and fish, but to hike in some of the most pristine places left on the planet, drink the water and eat the fish that you catch in that stream.

We want to protect that, so when Washington, D.C., has notions about coming out here and digging up all of Montana and drilling wells everyplace that we’ve got across the state, saying, “Well, we need your energy and we’re willing to sacrifice your backyard,” folks in Montana say, “No, I don’t think so.” We could produce our energy with alternative energy; We don’t want you to destroy our backyard. [more]

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