Nick Kessler

Connecting the dots

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Monday, December 30, 2002
Do conservatives ever turn off the Republican spin and see that Democrats are the ones trying to help them? Sure they do—when they get their faces rubbed in reality:

“Ranchers have never truly thought much of tree-hugging environmentalists. … But with these methane boys on our land, we are starting to see these environmentalists as conservationists who want to help us preserve land for our kids.”

That’s a conservative Wyoming rancher quoted yesterday in a New York Times article on coalbed methane extraction. In the past he and other Wyoming ranchers apparently opposed environmental protection without thinking much about it, maybe because that's what Republicans wanted. But now they can’t help noticing that Republicans are letting methane gas drillers rip up the land, making noise and leaving production wastes behind. Even these staunch conservatives, who have followed the GOP without any questions in recent years, are taking a serious look at the benefits they could get from environmental regulation.

This was an issue in the 2002 Wyoming governor’s race, as Daily Kos noticed back in October. The Democratic candidate, Dave Freudenthal, talked about this issue and told ranchers that “More protections need to be extended to surface landowners.” The ranchers listened, having been reminded by the gas drillers that the environment is not some liberal invention. And people who pay attention to issues, who base their decisions on candidates’ actual policy proposals, soon become Democratic voters. The people of Wyoming (the place that gave us Dick Cheney and the yahoos who lynched Matthew Shepard for being gay, where George W. Bush got a massive 69% of the vote in 2000) looked past the Republican war drums for a moment and made Freudenthal their governor.


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