Saturday, March 12, 2005

Brian Schweitzer for President! 

OK, OK. Maybe Montana isn't the strongest base to launch a campaign from. But still:

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has touched off a political fight with Montana Republicans after calling for the return of National Guard troops serving in Iraq to help out in what many fear will be a record-setting wildfire season.

Mr. Schweitzer, a newly elected Democrat, infuriated Republican lawmakers who see his request as a way to criticize the Bush administration over Iraq.

[W]eather experts say a seven-year drought and a severely reduced snowpack could lead to a devastating summer of wildfires.

They also worry that limited resources stretched thinner by the National Guard's service overseas could make it hard to combat the kind of huge blazes that engulfed the state in 2000, when some 2,400 wildfires burned nearly 950,000 acres of mostly public land.

Governor Schweitzer said Montana would disproportionately suffer the pain of proposed cuts in the federal budget, with money allocated for firefighting cut in half.

As fire season approaches, about 1,500 of Montana's 3,500 National Guard troops have been deployed on federal active duty, said a Montana Guard spokesman, Maj. Scott Smith.

The bulk of the Guard's helicopters - critical in shuttling fire crews and equipment to blazes - are unavailable, either because they are in Iraq or their aviation officers are absent.
(via Times)

Smooth move. The only thing that really infuriates Republicans is when a Democrat does something smart. More like this, please.

Governor Rendell?

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