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Monday, June 26, 2006

Joe Klein Doesn't Get Montana Senate Race

Time Magazine pundit Joe Klein travelled to Montana for the first debate between Democratic State Senate President Jon Tester and Senator Conrad Burns, and his quote to Montana's News Stations shows he doesn't understand the race at all:

Joe Klein, a Time Magazine Political Columnist, says "you have an incumbent with a questionable recent history in Washington whose been part of the Abramoff scandal or at least mentioned in it and you have a challenger who is taking some pretty controversial positions like today his opposition to the Patriot Act."
It would be difficult to be more wrong in a single sentence.

First, he says, "part of the Abramoff scandal or at least mentioned in it" -- which shows he has little understanding of Burns' role in the Abramoff scandal. While Klein fancies himself a pundit, the reporters at his own magazine named Burns one of "America's Worst Senators" saying:
Burns' real problem, however, is not with making law but with staying on the right side of it. Federal investigators are looking into his ties to Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who has admitted bribing lawmakers. In 2003 Burns got the Interior Department to make a $3 million grant to a rich, Michigan-based tribal client of Abramoff's; Burns also received $150,000 in contributions from Abramoff, his co-workers and his clients over the past five years. (Burns has since given those funds to charity.) In an April article in Vanity Fair, Abramoff said, "Every appropriation we wanted [from Burns' committee], we got ... I mean, it's a little difficult for him to run from that record."
In the same sentence, Klein also states that opposition to the Patriot Act is controversial. Not in Montana, a resolution opposing the Patriot Act passed 87 to 12 in the state house and 40 to 10 in the state senate. The resolution specifically called out Montana's congressional delegation to let the Patriot Act expire and stated:
[...]WHEREAS, certain provisions of the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001", also known as the USA PATRIOT Act, allow the federal government to more liberally detain and investigate citizens and to engage in surveillance activities that may violate or offend the rights and liberties guaranteed by our state and federal constitutions.


That the 59th Montana Legislature supports the government of the United States in its campaign against terrorism and affirms the commitment of the United States that the campaign not be waged at the expense of essential civil rights and liberties of citizens of this country that are protected in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that it is the policy of the citizens of Montana to oppose any portion of the USA PATRIOT Act that violates the rights and liberties guaranteed under the Montana Constitution or the United States Constitution, including the Bill of Rights.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in accordance with Montana state policy, in the absence of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity under Montana law, the 59th Montana Legislature exhorts agents and instrumentalities of this state to not:
(1) initiate or participate in or assist or cooperate with an inquiry, investigation, surveillance, or detention under the USA PATRIOT Act if the action violates constitutionally guaranteed civil rights or civil liberties;
(2) record, file, or share intelligence information concerning a person or organization, including library lending and research records, book and video store sales and rental records, medical records, financial records, student records, and other personal data, even if authorized under the USA PATRIOT Act, if the action violates constitutionally guaranteed civil rights or civil liberties; or
(3) retain any of the intelligence information described in subsections (1) and (2) of this clause if the information violates constitutionally guaranteed civil rights or civil liberties. [...]

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the 59th Montana Legislature urges the Montana Congressional Delegation to vigorously oppose any pending and all future federal legislation if the legislation infringes on the civil rights and civil liberties of American citizens. Federal legislation that the Montana Congressional Delegation is encouraged to oppose includes but is not limited to the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, also known as Patriot Act II.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Secretary of State send a copy of this resolution to President George W. Bush, the Attorney General of the United States, Governor Brian Schweitzer, Senator Max Baucus, Senator Conrad Burns, and Representative Dennis Rehberg.
Hopefully, Joe Klein will write about the Montana Senate race in a responsible manner, but I doubt it as DC pundits just can't seem to grasp western politics. There is lots Klein could add to the discussion of Montana's 2006 senate race. For instance, he could fact check Burns' lies like Intelligent Discontent did three times (1, 2, 3). Or Klein could write about how none of the DC pundits thought Tester would win the primary, much less dominate state-wide. But for some reason I predict he will drop the ball with some drivel that entirely misses what is really going on in the race.

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