Monday, October 16, 2006

Brian Schweitzer back east

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer headed back east for some speeches recently and this article provides good coverage. FYI -- He was asked about running for the White House in 2008 and his single-word answer was: "Nope." We'll see.
Governor gets press over Iraq, on ‘Colbert'
By NOELLE STRAUB Missoulian D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON - Speaking to a national audience here Friday, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said the situation in Iraq has become a civil war and that the Bush administration has changed the goalposts for when American soldiers can come home.

Schweitzer's speech at the National Press Club ended a three-day swing to the nation's capital and New York City for a series of talks on energy policy and an appearance on Comedy Central's “The Colbert Report.”
After remarks about ending dependence on foreign oil through conservation, biodiesel, renewable energy and coal-to-liquid technologies, Schweitzer fielded questions about Iraq and how Montanans view the war.

Schweitzer said Montanans wonder when they will know it's time to leave Iraq and who will tell them.

“What is the mark on the wall?” he asked. “I heard, ‘When we create a democracy.' Well, they have a dang congress, 400-some members. I heard, ‘When they stand up, we will stand down.' There's 290,000 people in the Iraqi military, it's one of the largest militaries in the world.”

The governor said Montanans join the military in higher percentages than nearly any other state. “We are prepared to help in this national effort, but please tell us why we are still there and what is the mark on the wall?” he said.
To read the rest, go here.

Brian Schweitzer speaking to the National Press Club

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer took a short trip back East recently and, among other events, spoke to the National Press Club:
Schweitzer promotes coal-to-fuel technology at National Press Club
Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — It's a speech Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D, can give by heart — he starts off with talk of his faithful border collie, Jag, to lighten the mood, then digs in on alternative energy sources.

The prairie populist was in good form Friday at the National Press Club, where he spoke about coal-to-liquid-fuel technology and other ways to decrease the country's dependence on foreign oil.

Wearing his typical bolo tie and jeans, Schweitzer peppered his speech with jabs at Washington, saying states were taking the lead on finding solutions to global warming and the nation's energy problems.

"We use about 6.5 billion barrels of oil a year and 4 billion comes from off shores," he said. "The most important issue of this time is creating energy independence."

The speech follows Schweitzer's announcement last Monday of plans to build a $1.3 billion coal-to-liquid-fuel facility in central Montana.
To read the rest, go here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Brian Schweitzer featured in the lead on 'Montana Niracle' article

Governor Schweitzer is featured once more in an article not only about the change from Republican to Democratic governance in Montana but throughout the American west. Here goes:
Miracle in Montana
Ted S. McGregor Jr.
Pacific Northwest Inlander

Imagine the scene: The candidate strides into the capital rotunda, followed by dark-suited men carrying briefcases. The gathered reporters open their notebooks. Camera flashes go off. On cue, the cases are opened, and piles upon piles of cash are dumped all over the floor of the place where the people's business is done. The shocked silence is finally broken by that candidate's righteous, booming voice, decrying the corruption that lobbyists and their briefcases full of money bring.

No, you don't have to daydream it, or experience it in an old Frank Capra movie; it really happened, in the Montana capital in Helena back in 2004. That politician was Brian Schweitzer, a mint farmer from Whitefish who was well on his way to winning the governor's job.

Oh yeah, and Schweitzer's a Democrat.

From out-of-control spending to indictments to botched wars to cover-ups, it's pretty clear that Republicans are trying their best to hand over the reins of government to the Democrats. But will the Dems grab them? Since being pushed aside in the 1994 Republican Revolution and then landing on the wrong side of the Florida non-recount, Democrats have been lost in the wilderness.

But in Montana, of all places, Democrats have found themselves.
Go here to read the rest.

Monday, October 09, 2006

NY Times Magazine does a feature on Brian Schweitzer

Maybe this will a big momentum generator as the New York Times Magazines on Sunday carried a feature story on Governor Schweitzer. You may agree with most of Governor Schweitzer's positions, or you may not, but name another Democrat who has his national appeal? Schweitzer could win every state John Kerry did, plus Ohio, maybe Florida and a number of Mountain West states. After what we have gone through for so many years now, people in this country are desperate for intelligence and authenticity in our leaders.

C'mon Democrats--here's a winner.
October 8, 2006
The Big-Sky Dem
By Mark Sundeen
NY Times Magazine

It’s fun being governor of Montana. Just watch Brian Schweitzer bouncing around the streets of Helena in the passenger seat of the state’s official S.U.V., fumbling with wires, trying to stick the flashing police light on the roof. When he spots some legislators on the sidewalk, he blasts them with the siren, then summons them by name on the loudspeaker. The men jump, and the governor tumbles out of the car, doubled in laughter, giving everyone a bear hug or a high-five or a soft slap on the cheek. Schweitzer, a Democrat in his first term, marches into a barroom in blue jeans and cowboy boots and a beaded bolo tie, and his border collie, Jag, leaps out of the vehicle and follows him in. The governor throws back a few pints of the local brew and introduces himself to everyone in the place, down to the servers and a small girl stuck there with her parents. He takes time from the backslapping to poach cubes of cheese from the snack platter and sneak them to the girl, who is now chasing his dog around the bar. “This is how you make friends with Jag,” he advises her. “Just hold it in your hand and let him take it.”

As soon as Schweitzer was elected in 2004 — the same night that George W. Bush carried Montana by 20 percentage points — pundits began declaring him the future of the Democratic Party. Never mind that it was his first elected office: the 51-year-old farmer and irrigation contractor had folksy charm and true-grit swagger. He shot guns, rode horses, took his dog to work and decimated his opponents with off-the-cuff one-liners heavy on the bull-and-horse metaphors. He didn’t act like a Democrat, in other words, and to many Democrats, reeling from consecutive losses to Bush, that seemed like a pretty good thing.

Schweitzer’s grandparents were homesteaders who immigrated to Montana from Ireland and Germany. His parents were ranchers who never completed high school. And until 2000, Schweitzer and his wife, Nancy, were farming in Whitefish and raising their three children. And then, despite the fact that he was a virtual unknown in politics, Schweitzer began a quixotic bid to oust Conrad Burns, a two-term incumbent Republican senator. To the surprise of Montana’s political class, he came within four percentage points of succeeding. Almost immediately, he began campaigning for what would be an open governor’s seat. Even after choosing a Republican as his running mate, he thumped his primary opponent by a 52-point margin, then won the general election by four points.

Within months of his election, bloggers were clamoring for a presidential run, and his popularity transcended the wonk journals to include coronation as “Hot Governor” by Rolling Stone magazine, while “60 Minutes” called him the Coal Cowboy. On camera he persuaded Lesley Stahl to take a whiff from a vial of diesel fuel synthesized from coal — a product that Schweitzer claims will not only fill Montana’s coffers but also help end the nation’s dependence on foreign oil peddled by “sheiks, rats, crooks, dictators.”

Schweitzer’s “Montana miracle,” in which Democrats took back the governor’s seat after 16 years and ended 12 years of Republican majorities in both state chambers, has been cited as evidence that the Republican bastions in the Western states are losing ground to a new, Democratic brand of libertarian-tinged prairie populism. No fewer than four recent books by Democratic strategists have mentioned Schweitzer as the kind of guy Democrats need to win back rural America. A fifth book, Tom Schaller’s “Whistling Past Dixie,” published earlier this month, also singles out Schweitzer and makes the previously heretical claim that the Democrats’ future lies in ignoring the South and embracing the West and Midwest, where voters are less evangelical and more independent.
Go here to read the rest.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Brian Schweitzer to appear before National Press Club

Mark October 13 on your calendar as Brian Schweitzer has another appearance that will hopefully bestow upon him more national media coverage. He is scheduled to speak before the National Press Club:
The following is a schedule of upcoming luncheons at the National Press Club. National Press Club events are open to NPC members and their guests only. Credentialed press may cover Luncheons and Newsmakers. Events listed are subject to last-minute changes. Space may be reserved at any NPC Luncheon by calling 202-662- 7501. To save time and avoid waiting in line, tickets can be paid for in advance by using a credit card or putting tickets on a house account if there is a credit card on file with the Club. Reservations are not required for Newsmakers, unless otherwise noted.

October 13, 2006 -- Governor Brian Schweitzer, Montana. Topic: Gov. Schweitzer will be discussing his vision for America’s energy future.

I-153 a model for Congress?

The following is an article about the need for I-153, the Montana initiative that at least slows the revolving door for individuals shuttling between legislator and lobbyist positions.

Such shuttling is but one longtime bane of local, state and national politics--but I-153 is a good beginning. Lobbying is all about money and access and not necessarily what is good for a city, state or country. For the ordinary citizen who cannot afford to 'play-to-play' -- expecting that our representatives have our best interest at heart -- well, we are just not allowed into the legislative equation.

I stop just short of calling lobbyist 'donations' legalized bribery. It can be difficult to 'prove' a quid pro quo but the taint is enough, or should be enough, for any legislator to reconsider accepting 'contributions' from an entity attempting to push or negate a piece of legislation.

That's just basic personal morality.
Capitol cleansing
John S. Adams

Does Helena’s “revolving door” need closing?

Gov. Brian Schweitzer wants to clean up state government, and since he couldn’t get the state Legislature to help him do it during the 2005 session, he’s taking his plan straight to voters in November.

Schweitzer is a key backer of I-153, the ballot initiative that would reform lobbying in Montana by requiring a two-year cooling off period for legislators, appointed state officials, elected state officials, and personal staff of elected state officials before they can become licensed lobbyists.

“If you were in the Legislature on Dec. 30 and on Jan. 1 you’re now working for the company that you were regulating or setting tax policy for, people are going to ask, ‘When did you negotiate that contract? When did you know that you were going to leave the employ of the people of Montana and join the employ of the company that you were supposed to be fairly taxing and regulating? When was this deal cooked?’ It doesn’t pass the smell test,” Schweitzer says. “What I’m trying to do is keep people from negotiating their next job when they are supposed to be representing the interests of the people of Montana.”

So far the measure faces no organized opposition, but not everybody in Helena thinks the reform is warranted.
To read the rest, go here.