​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A daily digest of Montana news

July 26, 2017


An official at Headwaters Flying Service of Belgrade shows where a bullet struck the firm's crop-dusting service's airplane Wednesday as the pilot was spraying a wheat crop near Belgrade. A second shot, also fired from the ground, also struck the plane. One of the shots hit just a foot and a half from the cockpit. (Facebook)




HOPE TO be the lucky motorist who snags a personalized Montana license plate with President Donald Trump's mystery word: "covfefe?"

Sorry, but you won't be able to get it. Nor will any other Montana motorist, according to Phil Drake of the Great Falls Tribune.

Drake says the Montana Motor Vehicle Division has decided that the word isn't appropriate for a state license plate. Go to the link above for an explanation why. After Trump tweeted "covfefe" -- he apparently meant to say press coverage -- motorists in at least 21 states attempted to see if they could get it on their license plates. 

SURPRIZE....err... suprise ... err ... Many Montanans aren't sure how to spell surprise.

​Google Trends has produced a study of the words that Americans have the most trouble spelling in each state. It can do this by looking at searches folks do in each state that start with "how to spell..."

And in Montana, believe it or not, that word is surprise. In the United States as a whole, "beautiful" is the word misspelled most often. If you want to see a map showing the top words people have trouble spelling in each state, you can go here.


​GREG GIANFORTE's body slam of a reporter inspired a lot of outrage. It's also inspired a new dance track called, of course "Gianforte (Bodyslam)."

The track was put together by Nick Ferrington, a full-time DJ and producer living on the East Coast who grew up in Montana. Ferrington, also known as DJ Nick Minaj, says the track is a "mix between a parody and just kind of taking notice of what happened in Montana..."

If you want to hear "Gianforte (Bodyslam)" you can find it here. Or you can also look for Ferrington's four-city tour of Montana in July.

ON ALL the national weekend talk shows, pundits were rightly condemning newly elected Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte for his body slam on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. What they couldn't believe was that Gianforte attacked Jacobs simply because the reporter asked him about the GOP health-care bill in the wake of a new CBO estimate of its impact.

It does seem crazy that such a thing would set off Gianforte. But what if Gianforte wasn't upset with that question, but with a previous Jacobs' article on his investments? Back in April, Jacobs wrote a story claiming that Gianforte had "financial ties to a number of Russian companies that have been sanctioned" by the United States. The article said Gianforte had invested a little under $250,000 in two ETF funds that bought Russian stocks, some of which had been sanctioned by the U.S. government.

The story didn't get a lot of play in Montana, but Gianforte's campaign opponent, Rob Quist, jumped on it --who knows, his campaign might have been the source of it -- and demanded that the Republican dump his "secret Russia" stocks. 

While the Guardian headline and lede rang alarm bells, the story itself did quote a former State Department official who dealt with sanctions policy, Richard Nephew, who said that while “there is definitely a question here ... my initial reaction is that this is not something to freak out about." The article also noted the ETFs were just a small portion of Gianforte's total assets, which could be as high as $315 million.

So, was Gianforte set off by Jacobs' health-care question, or was he still smarting from the Russian investment story, when he went crazy on Jacobs? He hasn't explained himself, probably because he wants to leave well enough alone. Meanwhile, he's still got a lot of work to do to repair the damage he's caused.

SHORTLY after getting word that the U.S. House race had been called in his favor, Republican Greg Gianforte took the stage in Bozeman to join his allies in a celebration -- and to apologize for his attack on a journalist the evening before.

Gianforte admitted he made a "mistake" by body slamming Guardian Ben Jacobs, who had entered his campaign headquarters to ask about the GOP health-care bill. "I took an action I can’t take back and I am not proud of what happened,” he said. He then turned to the cameras and apologized directly to Jacobs.

Jacobs had demanded an apology, but when it came he was having none of it. He told CNN that Gianforte's apology was in "some ways far worse than the assault."

Meanwhile, politicians weren't the only ones behaving badly. Bozeman Chronicle reporter Whitney Bermes made a good case that New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin lifted her photo of Gianforte's citation for assault without giving her credit. As the controversy unfolded on Twitter, most folks were coming down on the side of the 'small-town' reporter.

In another smackdown over the Gianforte smackdown, Butte native Rob O'Neill -- also known as the guy who shot Osama bin Laden -- sympathized with Gianforte on a Fox News show.  He noted he had his own problems with reporters hounding him and his family after news came out of his role in bin Laden's death. “We have a saying up there [in Montana]: ‘You mess around, you mess around, you might not be around,'” said O'Neill.

Keith Olbermann, who got famous on MSNBC for verbally lashing President George Bush a few years back, didn't care for O'Neill's remarks. On Twitter, he called the retired SEAL an "idiot," "snowflake," and "Clownboy."

O'Neill replied that, if Olbermann could afford bus tickets to Montana, he'd provide him free "body slam lessons."

Doesn't appear that Olbermann, who now does a podcast, is ready to take up O'Neill on his offer.


Regents slightly trim pay raises for top 80 administrators, coaches

Bullock declares drought emergency in 28 counties, on 5 reservations

2 shots fired into crop-dusting airplane near Belgrade

Hardin coal plant owes $2M in back taxes, leaving locals short of funds

Firefighter killed by falling tree in Lolo National Forest

Head of Native women's group sentenced to prison for embezzlement

Officials say new corrections laws should save state money

Grizzly photographed in Big Belts -- a big surprise to biologists

Bullock naming new chief of staff with national political experience

Helena man gets 100 years in prison for raping girl in bathroom

Teen gets probation for starting fire at Helena high school

UM may offer 3rd round of buyouts to employees

NY Times: Bullock creates PAC as 1st step toward running for president'

Sources say Bullock more likely to run for Senate in 2020

Hot, dry conditions forecast for many days ahead

Montana firefighters help battle blaze near US-Canada border

Debate rages over health-care reform as GOP bill fails in Senate

Bill banning new mining claims near Yellowstone Park getting hearing

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg tours Glacier Park, Blackfoot Reservation

UM student detained in China after scrap with cab driver

Supercell storm disrupts Rock Creek wedding but leaves campers alone

Daines once more backs repeal of Obamacare without replacement

GTF motorist spits out bag of meth and her dentures during traffic stop

Glasgow woman sentenced to prison for stealing $246K from nonprofits

Minnesota man dies while rafting north of Columbia Falls

Billings lawyer faces sanctions for allegedly obstructing political probe

Evacuation order lifted for Wolf Creek-area fire

Petition OK'd to recall Pondera County sheriff

3 more goat kids killed by mountain lion at Missoula-area ranch

Billings woman admits boyfriend die after he was severely beaten

Could the expansion of MT's Medicaid program be in jeopardy?

Bullock elected as vice chairman of National Governors Association

Glacier Park loosens certain boat restrictions, then reinstates them

Residents near Roundup asked to evacuate as wildfire threatens

Crews battle wildfires near Wolf Creek, Lincoln; residents evacuated

As wildfires rage, Forest Service cool toward using jumbo air tanker

Wetlands issue derails plans for new Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame

Body of kayaker recovered from Missouri River

Election officials criticize Stapleton charges of election fraud

MSU officials wonder how big their school can -- and should -- get

1,500 aftershocks recorded in wake of Lincoln-area quake

Late Sen. Conrad Burns to be buried Monday at Arlington Cemetery

3 North Dakota residents died in fiery crash near Forsyth

Searchers look for kayaker whose boat overturns on Missouri River


Montana grower plants first crop of industrial hemp; hopes to see more

Bozeman property values skyrocket in past 2 years

Missoula's Washington Co. wants to buy Canadian diamond mine 

Feds new BLM drilling permit mandate generates debate

As drought deepens, eastern Montana grain crops dry up

Layoffs expected at Missoula hospital, regional clinics

34 Montana brewers expected at Saturday brewing event in Billings

Montana Rail Link to cut back on grinding operations due to fire danger

Missoula County sues industrial site owner over $1.2M in owed taxes


Former Bobcat pleads guilty to possessing Xanax

Sophomore QB Murray likely to be a key for Bobcats

As he enters 3rd years, UM coach Stitt vows to 'stay the course'

North Dakota 1st, UM in 6th, MSU in 8th in preseason Big Sky poll

3 Grizzlies, 1 Cat earn preseason Big Sky honors

Event at Rebecca Farm, USA's biggest equestrian event, starts 19th



How to address the public access controversy in the Crazies

Mom: The Giving Tree who never complained

When it comes to delisting of grizzlies, science should prevail

Conflict-of-interest law for legislators needs reform

Bozeman Chronicle turns off online commenting due to vitriol

Yellowstone: The park where you can see people chase the grizzlies

Zinke must make good on promise to protect Missouri Breaks


Young Belgrade artist rising star in world of Native American art

This yoga less about finding inner chi and more about getting your goat

18th-century shotgun discovered in bank of Blackfoot River

Young author pens 'epic' dinosaur graphic novel

Birdie Brown's moonshine was some of the best in central Montana

Cooke City general store welcome stop for Yellowstone tourists

Montana's most popular spot to say 'I do': The Flathead Valley

Blackfoot Pathways sculpture park gets a gateway

A full moon in Glacier Park: Time for a bike ride, of course



A rundown on Montana's beer festivals in 2017​​

Red Ants Pants lineup to include Lucinda Williams, Bellamy Brothers

Brett Eldredge, Old Dominion performing at State Fair in Great Falls

Comedian Paula Poundstone appears in Bozeman Aug. 11

Decemberists to headline indie music fest in Missoula Aug. 12-13

Florida Georgia Line, Nelly coming to Missoula, Bozeman in September

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