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

Aug. 23, 2017


Jim Morris watches the solar eclipse Monday in a Missoula park with his son, Sullivan, 8, and daughter, Hattie, 4. (Missoulian)




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.


Montanans watch almost total solar eclipse with awe

Bozeman newspaper's eclipse glasses prove popular -- with thieves

2 charged after 2 dismembered bodies found in Missoula basement

Lolo Peak fire keeps threatening homes in foothills

Did Helena city officials follow rules in removing Confederate fountain?

VA secretary says progress made, but more reform will take years

State approves Belt Creek land buy for cleanup project

Ben Carson advocates 'holistic' approach to Indian housing

Judge orders Gianforte to take mugshot, give fingerprints

Woman accused of running over man pleads guilty to felonies

State's $62 million firefighting fund almost depleted

Glacier Park's Sprague fire grows to 1,100 acres

3,000-acre Wolverine fire started by child playing with lighter

Efforts help prevent another fish kill crisis on Yellowstone this summer

Most Montana deer survive harsh winter

National Guard troops arriving to help battle Lolo Peak fire

Lolo fire officials: Homes probably burned due to burnout slopover

State works to be compliant with Real ID Act

As Lolo Peak fire continues to grow, Highway 12 closed

Firefighters worry Lolo Peak blaze could jump Highway 12

2 protesters arrested as Helena removes Confederate fountain

Nearly all of Montana suffering from drought

Dry weather, smoky skies expected to stick around for awhile

Red Flag Warning issued in face of extreme fire danger

Seeley Lake reopened to boating, other recreation

License of former school official suspended for sending lewd photo

Former legislator has week to prove he can't pay $60K fine

American Prairie Reserve buys 46,000 acre central Montana ranch

Ben Carson to speak at Polson housing conference

Lolo Peak Fire explodes to over 15K acres, more residents evacuated

History experts aren't keen on removal of Helena's Confederate fountain

Oregon man charged with trying to kill Power County deputy

Ohio woman dies when she can't escape fire sparked by vehicle

Hiker shoots aggressive mountain goat in Cabinet Mountains

Supreme Court won't intervene in drug overdose case against student

UM picked one of 382 best colleges by Princeton Review

Former Kalispell man who threatened school shooting gets probation

Man found in creek near Lincoln apparently drowned


New online journal to cover Greater Yellowstone region

Expert sees potential in mineral deposits in shut-down Clancy-area mine

Boeing expands Helena plant for 3rd time

Historic Kalispell Lumber building coming down, but will go back up

CEO: State's health co-op has 'turned things around' after big losses

Court says Asarco can pursue East Helena cleanup costs from ARCO


NHL's Golden Knights celebrate homecoming of sorts in Whitefish

Sister of former Griz Brandon Gfeller to play for Lady Griz

Cats' mens hoops team unveils schedule

Grizzly offense looks sharp in 2nd scrimmage

Bobcat defense improves in final scrimmage

Former UM coach Wayne Tinkle & his Oregon St team safe in Barcelona

Griz DE Tucker Schye, proud to wear No. 37, looks for breakout year

Zach Wright emerges as leader on Cat's defensive line

Libby's Ryggs Johnston scores record 61 at Whitefish course



No easy fix for Helena's monumental dilemma

Tragic 'night of the grizzlies' led to needed management changes

Utility: Claims that NorthWestern made 'risky bets' are repugnant

Sometimes forest officials must go to court to fight for public land access

Secretary of State undermining confidence in election system

Kavulla: NorthWestern has made bad bets costing consumers millions

The Washington Post 'repurposes' a Daily Inter Lake grizzly story

Bullock should be voice for change in national policies on wildfires


Bozeman author's story of man who saved Jews in Europe will be movie

Cut Bank vehicle auction garners national attention

Montanans can watch the partial eclipse just about anywhere in state

More trumpeter swans being introduced in Madison Valley

She's proud to be 1st woman in Glacier's backcountry packing program

At 150, Fort Shaw looks back at Indian school days



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

Bigfork Crown Guitar Workshop & Festival Aug. 27-Sept. 2

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

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