Elections bring out the worst and best of some. While in the State of Montana before Christmas I read of Republican Senator Conrad Burns, the Canadian equivalent of Myron Thompson, that big ole lug of a homophobia deeply planted in Alberta. (I thought Alberta had a noxious weed eradication program)
Sen. Burns is up for re-election in Montana in 2006. He needs some issues to run on and everyone knows that if you are running and have a dismal record (ask Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin about this) you need an enemy. If one cannot be easily found you make it up. Those are the basic rules of re-election.
Burns in a moment inspired by Ovaltine most likely touched by some good corn whisky decided Canada should be that enemy. And frankly after getting charged a 40% premium on a coffee because of my Canadian dollar while in Missoula MT last week I think he is onto something.
Burns put his plan to work. He was seeking Homeland Security Funds (payola) for his State. This is going to be a hard sell given Montana is miles from any potential terrorist site, except for some Nukes near Great Falls. Look at Montana on a map, it is landlocked. If a dirty bomb were set off in Montana, its likely it would get more cattle than people and be days before the rest of the country heard about it.
Burns plan began to take shape. He invoked the scenes of 9/11. "We've got to remember that the people who first hit us in 9/11 entered this country through Canada".
Whoops, a lie and not a good one at that. You just know its downhill after that. This man is a US Senator, for give me for reminding you. He knew better. It has been shown that not one of those involved in 9/11 came into the United States from Canada. Its a myth begun on CNN and FOX, its use today, perpetrated with deliberate intent to distort the facts and gain advantage by instilling fear in the minds of those legitimately concerned about homeland security.
Burns has lost the "mad" attack on Canadian beef. Now he wants to create another beef with Canada in order to have his re-election enemy. He failed as he was forced to re-track his words almost immediately. Canadian ambassador Frank McKenna in uncharacteristic fashion shot of an angry letter to the Senator and released it to the press.
Mckenna wrote, "Let me assure you that Canada takes matters of domestic and continental security very seriously, (We) share a wide-ranging security partnership on issues such as passports, borders, fighting terrorism, military co-operation overseas, Norad, visa-screening, drug-trafficking, people-smuggling and law-enforcement."
In a sense you can hardly blame Burns for trying, he can't run on the Republican record of the biggest deficits in US History, or the many reports detailing how few advances have been made in protecting the homeland, or the prospect of a never ending war in Iraq or his President's falling numbers in a Red state (now slightly purple) like Montana. Just last year the state elected the first Democrat in years as Governor.
Burns of course will likely be re-elected, that's the way it is in the United States (Kinda like Alberta). Its too bad really, if instead of attacking the imaginary, he focused on providing health care, helped Montana Public Power acquire NorthWestern Energy, found money for schools he may actually have done something than simply take his anointed seat in the Senate.
Senator Burns could even vote against the Patriot Act, as asked by Gov Schweitzer and the Montana Legislature. "Montana values are not neighbors spying on neighbors,"Schweitzer told the Helena Independent Review.
Don't hold your breath, its likely we will see a photo-op of Burns standing at the Canadian border, his pile of bricks, some cement ...