Rolling Stone might be bit late in jumping on the national Brian Schweitzer love bus, but kudos to the guv for making the venerable magazine’s “Hot List,” as “hot governor” for 2005. And Schweitzer’s inclusion got us thinking (not something we can often say about the contents of Rolling Stone): Since the dog days of summer are clearly behind us, why not compile a “hot list” of our own before the deep freeze of winter sets in?

Hot Drunken Driver: Hamilton District Court Judge Jeffrey Langton. Convicted of drunken driving in March then later found drunk in a Missoula hotel in violation of probation, the judge now faces a possible recall election.

Hot Target: U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns. As if things weren’t going badly enough for Republicans in the wake of Tom DeLay’s indictments and Bush’s crashing approval ratings, our very own Sen. Burns makes the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) list of “the 13 most corrupt members of Congress.” Just mudslinging, Burns counters, but in politics mud can stick.

Hot Opportunists: Montana Democrats. Smelling blood in the water even before the CREW report, state Democrats launched a TV ad in August criticizing Burns for his dealings with “notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff.” Dems know they’re in for a tough fight to unseat Burns, who already has more than $1 million in his campaign coffers.

Hot Greens: Friends of the Bitterroot. After being shut out of a press conference to unveil the Bitterroot National Forest’s preferred alternative for the controversial Middle East Fork Project, the Friends led a PR coup against embattled Forest Supervisor Dave Bull. Newspapers in Hamilton and Helena editorialize against BNF tactics.

Hot Scare Tactic: The Montana Meth Project. TV ads and billboards across the state scare us almost straight. A few of the ads go on to make AdCritic.com’s Top 20 list of the most popular television commercials. Our favorite: that guy plucking his eyebrows. We’re definitely not doing meth with that dude.

Hot Disaster: Hurricane Katrina. The category-4 hurricane wipes out the Big Easy and makes waves all the way to Missoula, where local bands and businesses raise more than $18,000 at a “Concert for Katrina” benefit in Caras Park. Meanwhile, politicos make hay over one of the worst disasters in the county’s history.

Hot Oil: Fischer-Tropsch. Dead Nazi scientists make a huge comeback thanks to soaring crude prices. Schweitzer touts his plan—to use Fischer-Tropsch technology to turn Montana’s vast coal reserves into gas and diesel—all over the country, even landing an op-ed in the Oct. 3 New York Times.

Hot Dog: Capone, the pit bull. When a woman gets seriously bitten by a pit bull while breaking up a dogfight near an elementary school, the incident unleashes a flame war in the editorial pages. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about without a fresh round of hand-wringing over leash laws.

Bring on the fall…

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