With $300 million, Gianforte challenges governor to refuse PAC money

Televised advisor Dr. Phil, whose net worth is about half Greg Gianforte's

Televised advisor Dr. Phil, whose net worth is about half Greg Gianforte’s

Last week, Montana entrepreneur and admitted gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte challenged Governor Bullock to refuse donations from political action committees. Gianforte personally delivered the pledge to his office in Helena, although the governor was in Billings at the time. But no matter! The gauntlet was thrown down, by a man still holding approximately 300 million gauntlets.

After that public gesture, Gianforte told reporters he would take their questions not at all. Even the Independent, which previously ran a friendly interview from the state’s handsomest columnist, got shut out. Gianforte started the day with a stunt carried on every media outlet in the state and finished by telling us there was money on the dresser, so to speak. But we didn’t get any money. It was an insult our honor could not bear, and we repaid him by calling him a secret theocrat before he actually did it.

I understand why Gianforte mistrusts the press. Back when he told the Montana Bible College that Noah didn’t retire and that’s why he doesn’t believe in Social Security, we pilloried him for treating Genesis as policy. He explicitly told me he didn’t want to discuss religion in November. In January, Darrell Ehrlick of the Billings Gazette published this editorial complaining that Gianforte wasn’t talking about his faith.

I wish I could believe that his reservations on the topic were borne out [of] some modesty or humility. Instead, Gianforte may be reluctant to talk about his beliefs because then we might discover what he really believes—about gay people, evolution or any number of hot-button issues.

His reservation seem borne of the time we all made fun of him for three weeks, bro. Also, we know he believes a bunch of crazy stuff about gay people and evolution because there’s an (R) next to his name. These and other insights will reveal themselves to you if you read my column in this week’s Missoula Independent. If you don’t, who knows what will happen? Everyone but you, I reckon. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!

Are rich people really that smart?

Donald Trump fires his breakfast.

Donald Trump fires somebody, anybody.

The subtext of this New York Times story on big donors’ desire to advise presidential campaigns is that maybe they don’t offer the best advice. Consider this “zinger” that Julian Gingold gave Scott Walker:

“I mentioned that Trump had dinner at the 21 Club in New York with Oliver Stone. The message would get across that he had dinner with a leftist — what sort of conservative are you?”

Dinner with a leftist! It’s the scandal of the season, until Mike Huckabee plays softball with an atheist. Similarly, the Times reports that media mogul Stanley Hubbard was trying to reach Walker in the days before he dropped out of the race, to advise him to get more media training.

These are perhaps not ace political strategies. It makes sense that a professional wealth manager would not know as well as professional campaign managers how to execute a presidential campaign. But the public consensus seems to hold that, if wealth doesn’t necessarily qualify a person to run a campaign, it does qualify them to be president.

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Against which machine, exactly?

Rage Against the Machine and guitarist Tom Morello’s extremely bad t-shirt idea

Charming Charlie sent me this nuanced—and equally ranty, so buckle up—assessment of what it means that Paul Ryan likes Rage Against the Machine. I know that tidbit came out a few weeks ago, but you know it was the most important reveal of the 2012 election. Either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will be our next president; such details pale in comparison to the knowledge that the man who wants to end Medicare rocks out to “Killing in the Name.” The Last Psychologist, if that is his real name, believes that the whole thing is a setup—the question that brought this information to light, the co-opting of little- and big-r Rage by MTV, the faux media outrage, everything. I think he is exactly half right.

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Finally, Shepard Smith is creeped out


Years of cognitive dissonance seem finally to have broken through Shepard Smith’s head membrane at its weakest point, his mouth. For those of you who threw away your GOP primaries character chart, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney were enemies. Strangely, of all the obviously not true things Mitt Romney has said this year, “Ann and I are proud to call Newt and Callista friends” is somehow the most galling to me. Don’t lie about who your friends are. Just because the Republican Party has to form back into Voltron now doesn’t mean they all have to be friends; you can endorse someone politically without endorsing him personally. I don’t want to read too much into this, but the fact that Shepard Smith still has a job after this impromptu, on-air editorial regarding the fundamental nature of politics might tell us how psyched Fox News is about candidate Romney. I’m going to say roughly as psyched as Ann and Mitt are about Pictionary at the Gringriches’.


Matt Taibbi on the “1%-off”

Barack Obama, whose administration has pursued zero successful corruption prosecutions relating to the financial meltdown of 2008

Matt Taibbi is a writer with the virtues of his faults. The man who coined the phrase “vampire squid” to refer to Goldman Sachs has a knack for arresting rhetoric, but his reasoning can be breathless, too. Goldman Sachs is probably less like an evil sea monster and more like the complex problem of preserving egalitarianism in a post-industrial FIRE economy. Taibbi sure can write a screed, though. On Tuesday, he posted a scathing indictment of the 2012 election and, I think it’s safe to say, contemporary American democracy. As Americans literally riot in the streets over the outsized influence of Wall Street and corporate money on government and society, the race to the race to the White House feels like “a banal bureaucratic sideshow to the real event – the real event being a looming confrontation between huge masses of disaffected citizens on both sides of the aisle, and a corrupt and increasingly ideologically bankrupt political establishment, represented in large part by the two parties dominating this race.” Read that again and tell me any part of it seems implausible besides “looming confrontation.”

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