Here’s a fun and harmless waste of time while your boss is out to lunch and you’ve got free reign to abuse your Internet privileges. Type “bear” and “Missoula” into the Google search engine and see what pops up. We got “Bear Bounces Off Trampoline Onto Ground” from an NBC affiliate in Maryland, “Animal Rescue Creates Bouncing Bear Spectacle” from an NBC affiliate in Texas, and “Lost bear bounces back into the wild” from the UK’s BBC.

Wow! We’re not just national news, we’re international.

In case you missed it: Bear gets caught up Missoula tree. Bear gets shot by FWP agents with tranquilizer gun. Bear falls onto a trampoline FWP set up to break its fall. Bear bounces off trampoline onto the hard, cold, cruel ground (don’t worry, though, that spunky little guy is back in the wild having a good laugh about it with the other bears).

The bear story apparently clicked as the perfect lighter-side segment metropolitan TV news stations love. You know the ones. That “lost kitten found” or “cute child donates allowance to save the whales” type of story stations use as filler between reports about violent crime or outros into another Friends rerun.

All fascinating stuff. Yet some cynical media watchdogs may question why so many news outlets across the country are so interested in bears falling onto trampolines and not so interested in, say, grizzly bear reintroduction or the disappearance of bear habitat due to fires, or logging, or whatever. Apparently those cynics never took reporting 101, in which budding journalists learn the practical definitions of news: events that have a broad impact, events that are unusual, and absolutely any story, no matter how badly it fails to live up to the first two criteria, involving animals and trampolines.

•••

If your boss still hasn’t returned from lunch, why not try another one. This time try “Gov. Judy Martz” and “boobs.” Not getting anything? Don’t worry, neither did we. But let’s not give up so easily. Substitute “naked” for “boobs” and, whoa…now we’re wasting time in earnest.

This time around we’re not dealing with lowly local news broadcasts, but with heavy hitters like the Washington Post and CNN. It seems that the uncanny (facial) resemblance between our Judy and a figure in a sculpture of naked saloon dancers celebrating Helena’s history turned out to be more than just fun fodder for the Missoulian—mad props, by the way, for last week’s “Judy as nudie?” headline.

The Post story didn’t fail to include what is fast becoming one of the governor’s top Martzisms, which later popped up in Newsweek: “I’m a very modest person, no one would ever see me like that. My husband doesn’t ever see me like that.”

The governor also objected to the bare breasts as historically inaccurate. Martz spokesman Chuck Butler helped out by clarifying that “dancing women didn’t dance with their breasts bared. They showed those off later. They showed off their legs with their black stockings and garters.”

Thanks, Chuck. How many Google searches did it take to dig up that factoid?

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