Rick Hill’s foot-in-mouth disease, and the results of our black-plastic survey 7 

Nothing gives more pleasure to the mendacious mouth-breathers of our Media Watch Department than when public officials say incredibly stupid stuff. It seems very much like a violation of public trust to us when our elected representatives shoot their mouths off, and Montana’s pols have given us more than enough evidence to make that case lately. Sen. Conrad Burns’ description of the oil-producing nations as “ragheads,” of course, is now the stuff of legend. State Sen. Bruce Crippen also got plenty of flak when he said last year that the will of the Legislature outranked the will of the people. And then there was that off-the-cuff remark made a year ago this month by U.S. Rep. Rick Hill about one of his would-be successors, Democrat Nancy Keenan. The comment—that Keenan is somehow unfit for office because she doesn’t have any children—was understood by many to be yet another exercise in the camouflaged rhetoric of “family values,” in which politicians get to make innuendoes about a candidate’s personal life and then claim that their bad-mouthing is somehow for the common good. For a while, it looked like Hill had gotten away with it. Until now.

In its current issue, Mother Jones magazine offers a list of the worst political gaffes committed in recent memory—they call them The Diddly Awards—and near the top is our own lame duck rep Rick Hill. Hill’s slur was made even more egregious, MoJo points out, by the revelation that Keenan had to have a hysterectomy in 1983. We can only wonder what Hill’s response would be if someone had made light of his vision disorder, say, or if Hillary Clinton made a gag about Rudy Giuliani’s prostate. Fortunately, we won’t have to wonder for long. So long, Rick. It was good hearing from you.

Attentive readers will recall that a few weeks ago, the Indy asked you to take part in our informal survey of fixtures in Missoula’s cultural and architectural landscape that you would like to see wrapped in black plastic—either in order that we might appreciate them better when temporarily deprived of them, or just so we don’t have to look at them for a while.

We didn’t get enough ballots back to really make it scientific, but patterns did emerge: the Millennium Building, Southgate Mall and the ravaged “L” on Mount Jumbo rank highest on your list of local landmarks to wrap in black plastic, while the Peace Sign, County Courthouse and bronze trout sculptures in Caras Park came in at the bottom. Whether or not this was meant as a compliment is unclear, owing to the vague nature of our—one more time—informal (read: slapdash and ill-thought-out) survey.

And a little venting was had by all, including a friend to the Indy who noted that “I can think of a few bar owners I’d like to wrap in plastic. One ex-girlfriend. My dad’s cat, because he’s crazy. Any musician who repeatedly asks to sit in. Anyone who liked American Beauty and the entire cast and crew of that film.”

Um, geez, could you be more specific?

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