Recently, on an episode of the delightful NBC sitcom “The Good Place,” a group of characters take a trip to an American-themed restaurant, and find themselves sitting at a table that highlights Montana’s contributions to culture. Those contributions include the Missoula-born Dana Carvey as the Church Lady on “Saturday Night Live,” the sketch-artist rendering of the Unabomber (who, for the record, was from Illinois), and famed asshole Evel Knievel. It’s telling the most recent reference is from over two decades ago.
This is unfortunate, because right now is an exciting time to be a Montanan. Not only have we finally surpassed Alaska for the highest suicide rate in the nation, but our governor, the honorable Steve Bullock, is running for president. Well, not officially… yet. Bullock has been surprisingly tight-lipped on his alleged plan to mount a presidential campaign to challenge Donald Trump in 2020. Eagle-eyed pundits, however, have noted in recent months Bullock has been quietly doing all the things one normally does before running for the highest office in the land.
He’s already travelled to key primary states to shake hands with voters, he’s met with the leaders of the Democratic party and (presumably) had his mistresses killed. With the run-up to the hospital fire that’s going to be the 2020 presidential election, the question isn’t one of “Can Steve Bullock win the White House?” but rather one of “Who in the hell is Steve Bullock?”
Here in Montana, of course, we know him well. From his one term as the state’s attorney general to winning the governor’s seat by beating Rick “Remember me?” Hill in 2012 and potato-faced goon Greg Gianforte in 2016, Bullock has come out on top of every election he’s competed in over the last decade. In 2016, somewhere near one quarter of Montanans who voted for Trump for president also voted for Bullock for governor. He’s a red-state democrat who has found success reaching across the aisle without sacrificing his progressive ideals. He’s pro-net neutrality, pro-choice and pro-breweries. He’s the kind of guy you’d sit down and have a hoppy IPA with. But outside of the Last Best Place, what percentage of people could pick Steve Bullock out of lineup, let alone identify Montana on a map?
This is the uphill horse race Mr. Bullock finds himself in. He’s a good politician from a beautiful state full of great people that, unfortunately, the rest of the country knows absolutely nothing about. Regardless of anyone’s politics, however, I personally hope Bullock runs (and wins) for no other reason than to give the world a taste of Montana culture that’s a touch fresher than early ‘90s SNL.