My Reaction to Gov. Steve Bullock’s State of the State Address

By BOB WIRE

First of all, thank you for wearing a tie, Governor Bullock. Very refreshing. Looks like you might actually be here to run the show, not just moseying into town for mule liniment and canning supplies.

As for the noise of all your kids running around the Governor’s Mansion, I welcome it. It’s healthier and more pleasant than the sound of the previous Governor’s arm-twisting, ball-busting brother hunched over a double Jack and Coke on the living room couch, cracking walnuts with one bare hand and checking names off the Governor’s hit list with the other.

Your predecessor may have his sights set on higher office, but I for one am glad to be represented by a man who sounds more like a reasonably urbane public servant than an aw-shucks amalgam of Tony Soprano and Slim Pickens. Yes, we’re largely a rural state but I don’t necessarily need my governor to pilot a thresher or wield a branding iron.

The possibility of a new manufacturing facility in Great Falls is quite attractive,  especially in light of the work force that keeps growing daily there, what with all those dead zombies popping up out of the grave and all.

 

Governor Bullock explains “…no really, those were NOT dead zombies popping out of the grave in Great Falls. It was ahoax!”

I applaud your gesture toward transparency by putting the state’s checkbook online. I tried putting my own checkbook online, but I kept getting a rejection window that said, “Sorry, we do not accept fiction.”

Our state’s $500 million surplus is the envy of the U.S., it’s true. Of course, that’s going to be more common in states where there’s little more to spend your money on than mule liniment and canning supplies.

We do reap a lot of coin from the rest of the world by way of our magnificent national parks, Yellowstone and Glacier (yes, I know the vast majority of Yellowstone lies within Wyoming, but it’s at the entry gates where you make all your money). In fact, the tourist trade is responsible for an enormous portion of our state’s income in general. And we love tourists. Just ask any Montanan, where’s your favorite place to take an out-of-state visitor? They’ll probably say the airport.

Your proposed J.O.B.S. bill is laudable. Let’s invest our gaudy budget surplus in the state’s continued prosperity vis a vis an educated and trained workforce. We don’t need a new state logo, or a state barbed wire museum, or a new highway system that leads all drivers to a massive Indian casino just across the state line. We need to build those casinos right here in Montana.

And I totally agree with more investment in our university system, with an eye to a universal enrollment scheme that will allow students to transfer between in-state schools easily. College bookstores that sell team paraphernalia to all the different state schools will enjoy a major bounce in income. This scholastic homogenization may take some time. Until then it will be Barracudas living with Bulldogs, Bobcats living with Grizzlies—mass hysteria!

On the subject of education, you are once again on the money, so to speak, by proposing that all income derived from the lottery be dedicated to education, not siphoned off by legislators with pet projects such as a radon mine-powered DMV, or Somali-speaking robots patrolling the Northern border. No, I want all the money squandered by gambling addicts and people who are bad at math to go towards teaching our kids to invest in a legitimate retirement fund, and not waste their money on dumb shit like the lottery.

Access Health Montana sounds like a solid, much-needed program to level the playing field for our citizens. Those with great health insurance get great care, yeah, but the cost is driven sky-high by the burden of providing decent care for those who can’t afford it. We need to close that gap between the haves and the other haves. This always makes me so upset that I almost hyperventilate my way into an asthma attack. Excuse me while I go plug in my Medicare-funded, hypoallergenic, osmium-centric, ionizing, hydroponic air purifier. Whew. That’s better.

Another thing that’s got me breathing heavy is your proposed $15 million grant to cities and towns that are having their infrastructures overtaxed by the energy boom, but are not seeing a piece of the action from the increased revenues of the energy companies and contractors pulling the gas-and-oil rug out from under the terrain. That’s not fair at all. Let these cigar-gnawing fat cats in the gas ‘n awl bidness pay their fair share to shore up the surface roads, bridges, highways and other infrastructure they’re destroying. AND I say leave enough money behind to scrape the man camps off the face of the earth and replace them with the biggest damn casino/fireworks outlet you’ve ever seen in you life.

Now, here’s something I like. Taking a big hunk of that budget surplus and returning it to  the homeowners who are funding your ride. Hell yes. $400 per residence? As I’m typing this in my office, I can hear the hammering and sawing of the handyman upstairs who is remodeling the bathroom in our 40-year-old home. I will not turn down your $400, sir. That’s enough money to pay for, oh, two dozen tiles and a shower handle. And two lottery tickets.

So in the end, Governor Bullock, you claim to have the same things on the top of your list that I do on mine: better jobs, better schools, a more effective government. Why don’t you start working on that last item by installing a clown detector at the entrance to the Legislative Chambers in the Capitol? State representatives proposing bills that would allow spanking or caning of criminals? Teaching creationism in schools? Allowing kids to bring guns to school? Legalizing hunting with silencers? I mean, really, these are the weighty issues our representatives are spending their limited session time on?

Sounds like a few of these knuckleheads need a friendly visit from the former governor’s brother.

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   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blogarchive.

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Bob Wire is medicated and ready to rock.

Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.