A daily digest of Montana news

May 3, 2015


​​IS MONTANA a racist place? Not so much, if one is to believe a recent study based on Americans' Google searches. 

The study, published in PLOS ONE, analyzed Google data searches to determine race attitudes. You can see the results broken down on this map of the country. Data wasn't available for some parts of Montana, but what was available put the state in the "much less" racist than average category.

In fact, most of the region was in that category. So where do the most racist folks supposedly live? The rural Northeast and the South.

AS CHAIRMAN of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Sen. Jon Tester is now pursuing a strategy that could have done him in nearly a decade ago. So say two Roll Call magazine analysts, Stu Rothenberg and Nathan L. Gonzales.

They note that, in 2006, national Democratic strategic strategists preferred Montana's auditor John Morrison as the party's candidate to run against incumbent GOP Senator Conrad Burns. But Morrison stumbled in the primary due to personal problems, Tester won the primary, and went on to upset Burns. The Roll Call analysts tell how party leaders tried to talk him out of running in order to give Morrison a better shot at beating Burns.

Fast forward to 2015, and Tester is in the same boat, say Rothenberg and Gonzales. In order to give Democrats the strongest chance of keeping Senate seats they hold and winning ones they don't hold now, Tester's organization is taking sides early on. It has made endorsements in some races, and been complimentary of some candidates in others.

​​MONTANANS love their rock 'n roll. So much so that they listen to more of it -- on a per capita basis -- than anyone else in the country. How do we know?

The online music service Pandora reports that Montanans listen to more rock, compared to other genres of music, than residents of any other state. Montana members listened to rock 19 percent of the time, followed closely by Colorado at 18 percent. Next up: Arkansas and Oregon at 15 percent, then Wyoming at 12 percent.

MONTANA has some great bars. Most of them are cowboy saloons, unpretentious places where you can relax with friends, sharing drinks and stories while chewing on a delicious burger and fries.

But what is the state's most iconic bar? According to the website Thrillist, it is the Sip-N-Dip in Great Falls,  tucked away in the O'Haire Motor Inn. It certainly doesn't fit the stereotype for a typical Montana bar.

The Sip-N-Dip, says Thrillist, is "an old-school tiki bar that serves up fruity cocktails that are in direct contrast with the state's unofficial order of 'whiskey and a side of solidarity.' Were that its only defining trait, the Sip 'n Dip would be a rarity. But it's their mermaids that make it an icon. That's right: in a state that defines landlocked, the servers (and, once, Daryl Hannah) dress as mermaids and swim around in a pool behind the bar, peeping in through a glass window. Throw in the soothing sounds of Piano Pat Spoonheim and you don't just have an icon. You've got a national treasure."

Thrillist picked the most iconic bars in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Its rules: The bars had to be famous, had to be around since at least 1990, and they still had to be popular.

NO SURPRISE here: Montana's most liberal town is Missoula.

How about the most conservative? It's Hammond. Huh? Where's that?

Hammond is about as far from Missoula as you can get, both physically and politically, in southeastern Montana. It only has about 150 residents.

​So who decided that Missoula and Hammond were the most liberal and conservative places in Montana? Business Insider came up with those designations based on data it got from political analytics company Clarity Campaign Labs. It also found the most liberal and conservative communities in the other 49 states.

WHO makes the best pizza in Montana? Eugene's of Glasgow, according to an online survey conducted by the website Montana Mint. More than 10,000 votes were cast in a March Madness -style playoff bracket.

The top vote getters had a distinctly Hi-Line flavor to them, with Eugene's winning 48 percent of the vote in the last round and Nalivka's of Havre taking 34 percent. Others that made the final round were Howard's of Great Falls (11 percent) and Me Too Pizza of Culbertson (4 percent).​​​


Construction of 15-tower wind farm to start next week near Fairfield

Fort Peck tribal council banishes Poplar superintendent from reservation

Feds raise concerns about Montana's approach to Medicaid expansion

Zinke opposes budget resolution due to land-transfer provision

Report: 6 percent of MT's rural hospitals vulnerable to closure

Big Sky coach pleads guilty to raping one of his former players

Billings students, teachers guide ducklings thru school to safe waters

Ronan man was found as time was running out for his survival

Montana Tech breaks ground on $10 million research center

Former Butte band teacher arraigned on 17 charges, including rape

Law enforcement seeing more hash oil show up on Montana streets

Conservatives say they can't claim many victories this session

Lawmakers enact 565 bills this session

Bozeman police arrest man after series of strange events

Billings man charged with fatal shooting

Bullock shoots down 32 Republican bills with vetoes

GOP files complaint alleging legislator, liberal group illegally coordinated

Bullock signs bill expanding Montana's Medicaid program

State must get waiver from feds before expansion can go into effect

Board denies parole for West Yellowstone killer

Actor Jeff Bridges gives another $20,000 to Montana hunger campaign

6 senators want fees on rail cars that haul flammable oil products

Helena Diocese divulges names of priests, others accused of sex abuse

Gov calls for development of Keystone pipeline, renewable energy


Owners sign contract to clean up Columbia Falls aluminum plant site

Missoula's St. Patrick Hospital tearing down Safeway building 

Drop in oil prices alters the landscape in the Bakken

Section of Kalispell mall on the auction block

Drone businesses take off in Montana

Ranchers from around country come to MT to find replacement cattle


Former Griz Jordan Johnson released by Ottawa Redblacks

Legislators make changes in fishing, hunting regulations

Corvallis gridder commits to play tight end for Eastern Washington

Kiper: Carroll College kicker has a chance of getting drafted

Big Sky could have 3 to 5 players taken in draft, says official

Former Griz Zach Wagenmann breaks foot in draft workout


Lawmakers helped education, but didn't go as far as could have

NY Times review: Krakauer book one-sided, lacking texture, complexity

State-run health clinics do a good job for workers

House fails to deliver on infrastructure bill for state

Nice to see Montana legislators crack down on 'dark money'

Lawmaker: Cost of state's 'free' health clinics is skyrocketing


Butte author gets deal for TV series based on his book, 'Fobbit'

Pompeys Pillar monument open for season to visitors

Tours being offered at Flathead's colorful Bibler Gardens

GTFs' Reggie Watts keeps viewers entertained on his new late night gig

An incredible collection of vintage aircraft -- out in the Montana woods

Smithsonian series looks at lives of Bakken oil patch residents


Eagles to perform at Billings concert June 2

Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss on stage in Missoula June 17

Country star Clint Black to headline Headwaters Jam in June

Hank Williams Jr. to play at Billings music fest July 11

Norman Maclean festival runs July 10-13 in Seeley Lake

Martina McBride coming to Helena stage on July 22

Motley Crue, Alice Cooper take stage in Billings July 26

Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice take stage at State Fair in late July

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Ryan Bingham headline Red Ants Pants Festival

Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Oyster Cult to play at Billings fair Aug. 8

Martina McBride coming to Billings Aug. 9

Miranda Lambert to perform in Billings Sept. 25

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Martin Wilde, who completed a 10-megawatt wind farm near Fairfield last year, plans to start construction Monday of a 25-megawatt wind farm near the first one. (Great Falls Tribune)