Typically described as one of the few positive offshoots of the Montana legislative session, Helena’s Saturday Nite Live theater troupe last week dished out new spleen-splitting satire in the Capital City.

Directed and performed by a cadre of patient progressives, the biennial political event serves as a critical release valve for those apoplectic over the state’s hackneyed Republican majorities and their bumbling executive branch counterpart, Gov. Judy Martz.

The beleaguered Martz, in vital need of a political makeover, stunned many in the audience by appearing in a video kick-off to the two-night show. In another coup for SNL conspirators, Martz also took part in a surprisingly funny taped interview with Buck Snort, the troupe’s fictitious journalist who doubles as chief UN weapons inspector at the Montana Capitol.

In search of legislative weapons of mass destruction, the security-conscious Mr. Snort uncovered a large number of misguided, dunderhead missiles in the House and Senate, as well as disturbing levels of mind-numbing gases that can mutate otherwise normal people into hard-right GOP clones.

Before she got down to business with Mr. Snort, the governor, still on tape, unceremoniously heaved a stuffed dummy—aka an effigy of Indy columnist and tribal lobbyist George Ochenski—out the entryway of her office.

In real time, on Jan. 23 Ochenski was shown the door for bluntly challenging the governor’s proposed raid on the state’s Coal Trust Fund. Confronted in a hallway just minutes after his ouster, Ochenski—and this is also true—told one observer that his back was covered with turtle bites.

The Butte-raised governor, of course, is rarely seen in public without a turtle pin. Martz’s motto: you can only make progress by sticking your neck out.

Ochenski also played prominently in SNL’s fictitious “lobbyist throw” competition, wherein legislators paid to pitch dummies representing their “favorite” tail-twisters off a balcony onto the Capitol Rotunda floor.

Also competing for space on the SNL skewer were U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, Baucus challenger and noted Republican homophobe Mike Taylor, and some of the more-blatant absurdities produced by the country’s latest strain of blind-faith jingoism.

In the terror-alert arena, SNL pranksters defined Code Red as “scared shitless” and Code Green as “envious of pre-9-11.” According to a skit-ish Tom Ridge, Americans now will be far safer for not being exposed to information or new ideas. If the same applies to Helena’s life-sustaining SNL performances, then it’s certain Montanans will be safety-deprived, as well as depraved.

•••

When did interns become so dangerous? So glamorous? So scandalous? An intern used to be a pimply-faced peon whose sole purpose was to shuffle from work to Starbucks to Dunkin’ Donuts and back. Now they fellate presidents, vanish after torrid love affairs with congressmen and steal Pink Panther thong underwear.

Nathaniel Campfield may have the sad distinction of becoming the Missoulian’s first noteworthy (and possibly dangerous) intern. Last week, Campfield was charged in Missoula County Justice Court with felony burglary and misdemeanor theft (of the aforementioned Pink Panther thong underwear—exhibit P if you will).

According to the court record: Coming home, two women spied Campfield in the doorway of their house. When they confronted him, he fled. The women called 911 and the police picked up Campfield two blocks away. Campfield told the police that he thought the house belonged to a friend, a last-nameless “Megan,” whom he’d met at a bar in 1999, and that he was just going in, late at night, to see if she still lived there.

Huh?

After a police search of Campfield turned up the Pink Panther thong underwear, the Indy has to wonder how well Campfield and this “Megan” know each other. Is she one of those long-lost (and mythical) Niagara Falls flings?

Flying in the face of that whole wacky notion that one is innocent until proven guilty, Campfield’s internship has been put on hold until the matter is resolved.

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