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CAN YOU imagine former Gov. Brian Schweitzer as a Playboy centerfold? Well, neither can Buzz. And that's something you won't have to see. But you can get the next best thing: A Playboy interview with Schweitzer in the newest issue of the magazine.
Playboy noted that Schweitzer was one of the nation's more polarizing, albeit popular, governors, and his tendency to make off-the-cuff remarks sometimes lands him in hot water. Such as his recent comments about former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor setting off his "gaydar."
Playboy interviewer Jeff Greenfield told Schweitzer that Bill Clinton didn't inhale, Barack Obama did, and George Bush was somewhere between them. Where were you? Greenfield asked Schweitzer.
"I'm right there with the three of them," the former Montana governor replied with a laugh.
Schweitzer told Playboy that the image he projects -- wearing bolo ties and jeans and bringing his dog Jag to the office -- isn't an act he dreamed up to help him politically. "You know, I don't have an image creator around me," he says. I am who I am."
But for most of the interview, Greenfield pressed Schweitzer on what he thought about issues such as foreign policy and government spending, how he rated the performance of President Obama (not too highly), and where he saw himself fitting into the presidential race in 2016.
Schweitzer made it clear it is a horse race he's thought a lot about entering. "You know, I'm just a guy who knows a thing or two about horses," he concluded.
IN A column written for the Last Best News web site, former Billings Gazette newsman David Crisp expressed surprise that the Gazette endorsed Democrat John Lewis in the US House race. "I just about dropped my teeth....," he said.
The Bozeman Chronicle also recently endorsed Lewis, who is trailing Republican Ryan Zinke in the polls.
While some may be surprised that Lewis got the endorsement of the Gazette and the Chronicle, Buzz would be surprised if Zinke got the endorsement of any of the major Montana dailies this year. Why's that, you ask?
A few years back, Buzz went back and counted all the endorsements in Montana's dailies for statewide races over the course of a decade. Sorry, can't remember the exact count, but the dailies endorsed Democrats by more than a two-to-one margin over that period. So all the papers, except for the Kalispell Interlake, generally prefer Democrats.
But there are two caveats to this trend. In every election cycle, papers like to endorse at least one Republican -- usually the most moderate one running -- to show readers they try to be fair and balanced. Second, they don't like to waste endorsements on candidates who seemingly have no chance of winning.
This year, there are only two statewide partisan contests: Senate and House.
In starting at the top of the ballot, the Senate race, the Gazette and Chronicle both endorsed Republican Steve Daines. Bottom line, Buzz believes it was due to the second rule mentioned above: Don't waste your endorsement on candidates with no chance of winning. Polls show latecomer Amanda Curtis far behind Daines.
So what are the Gazette and Chronicle to do to restore their karma? Go with Lewis in the House race, of course.
UPDATE: Since this piece first appeared, the Helena Independent Record made its endorsements in these races. No surprise, at least to Buzz: Daines and Lewis got the paper's blessing.
(Interesting side note: The Great Falls Tribune says it won't be endorsing candidates this year -- the first time Buzz ever remembers that happening.)
THE MOST popular brand names in Montana? Dodge, Amazon, and Prilosec, according to research based on Google searches done by Montanans.
Really? Sounds odd, doesn't it?
You'd think that NorthWestern Energy might have been one of the top three, as it has been in the news a lot lately due to its purchase of PPL's dams. Or maybe a company like Budweiser, since Montanans not only like their beer, but they grow much of the barley used to produce it.
WHEN IT comes to taxes, which state is the fairest of them all? Montana is, according to a survey done by WalletHut, a personal-finance site. Really?
Even a lot of Montanans will be surprised by that finding, thinking they pay an awful lot in taxes. But they actually tend to pay less than taxpayers in other states. Why?
Because Montana is one of only five states with no general sales tax. And to make up for that lack of revenue, the state takes a bigger chunk of change from energy producers and big property holders.
Interestingly, both liberals and conservatives who were surveyed ranked Montana as the fairest state in terms of taxation. Now, how often do you see folks on either side of the political spectrum agree on something, especially an important issue like taxes?
Makes you wonder why Montana's tax system isn't more of a model for other states.