If wishes were horses, would these candidates inspire? 

With the May 25 special election on the horizon, the three candidates for Montana's sole U.S. House seat are busy trying to prove their worth to voters. And last weekend, there was no better place to do just that than in the first (and only televised) debate of the campaign.

During the hour-long debate, the House hopefuls got right to the meat of the issues that matter most, like the benefits of climate change and whether Greg Gianforte is actually a Russian psy-op personified.

But the high point of the debate came when Libertarian Mark Wicks compared his opponents to vehicles. Wicks called Democrat Rob Quist a "little half-ton pickup" and Gianforte a "luxury car," while comparing himself to a "work truck."

"I'm the guy, when you're pulled over on the side of the road, and you're broke down, you want to see that big pickup pull up behind you that has the tow ropes, the chains, the tools, everything to get the job done," Wicks said, "and you know you're going to get home that night."

A useful metaphor, though all the candidates otherwise performed at the level of public access television hosts, alternately stumbling over words and grinning like supervillains. But the most cogent analogy of the night still left us wondering: What else might our beloved candidates be compared to?

If the candidates were drugs, Gianforte, who owns $2.5 million in pharmaceutical company stock, would probably be a used fentanyl patch. Wicks would almost certainly be cheap speed. And Quist would be a dusty old nug you found in your high school bedroom in your parents' house.

What if the candidates were bikes? Gianforte would surely be a Litespeed Blade, retailing at $40,000. Quist, who prides himself on his down-to-earthiness, would be a homemade fixie. And you know that Wicks, whose party adores self-starters and minimal government, would surely be a unicycle.

If the candidates were trout, Quist would be a cutthroat, that native species adored by locals. Wicks would be the embattled bull trout, plucky yet besieged. And Gianforte? Given his entrepreneurial voraciousness and reputation as invasive, let's call him a lake trout.

But maybe the candidates are more like tattoos, in which case Wicks would be a quarter-sleeve portrait of Ayn Rand, Quist would probably be one of those hokey finger mustaches, and Gianforte would be nothing, because God's creatures are forbidden from marking their skin (Leviticus 19:28).

And if the candidates were better candidates, they would be literally anyone or anything other than a bunch of inexperienced old white dudes with nothing to offer but prepackaged folksy platitudes designed to appeal to other old white dudes.

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