Everybody loves a scoundrel. Who can resist the raffish charm of Han Solo, the ironized confidence of Chael Sonnen, the armed troops of Francisco Franco? Not Americans—Americans love an anti-hero, a fellow who does bad but deep down is good, somehow. Our penchant for anti-heroes is so strong that, as many critics observe, we have damn few regular heroes left. I am not worried about the hero population, though. I’m worried about our supply of villains, which dwindles to near zero as they are all declared likable scoundrels. Today is Friday, and the week that was does not look so bad in retrospect. It was actually total dicks, though, and a scoundrel is a scoundrel no matter how much the princess loves him in Jedi. Won’t you shoot first with me?
Say what you will about Montana—where, for example, the most liberal city in the state does not provide garbage pickup—we do preserve a certain political culture. The same Montana that devotes very little money to public services and has a legislature that meets for 90 days every other year was also one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana. When I first came to grad school here, it was legal to drink whiskey straight out of the bottle while driving on the interstate. Like the great libertarian states, Montana is suspicious of pretty much all laws; yet, like the great liberal states, it is also suspicious of corporate influence. Montanans are just suspicious generally. That’s why we have some of the tightest campaign finance restrictions in the country, and why Governor Brian Schweitzer took the New York Times yesterday to defend them.