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Caught on Tape: GOP Advocates Letting Homes Burn Down in Face of Wildfires

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You want to see the real-world problems with right-wing extremism? Here's a good example from Big Sky Country. With Montana facing major wildfires, senior Montana Republican lawmaker John Sinrud -- who heads the state House's appropriations committee -- used a legislative hearing this week to attack Gov. Brian Schweitzer's (D) administration for -- get ready for this -- trying to prevent homes and buildings from being burnt down. At the hearing, he asks "Why not just let [buildings] burn?" Ah yes, what a refreshing dose of "compassionate" conservatism.

You can listen to the audio yourself (which was also posted by Kos this morning). But there's an even bigger backstory to all this that makes this offensive statement worse. See the extended entry for what I mean.

The Helena Independent Record last week reported that Schweitzer is being forced to call an emergency legislative session (at a cost of $65,000 per day) in order to obtain more firefighting money because Republicans like Sinrud previously rejected his efforts to add that money to the budget - all while they advocated for massive tax cuts for out-of-state corporations. The Montana GOP has responded by writing letters to the editor claiming Schweitzer is lying, though the Great Falls Tribune editorial board debunks that claim entirely -- showing that it is the GOP that is lying. Here's an excerpt:

"Gov. Brian Schweitzer called Thursday to advocate on behalf of his appropriation request in the special legislative session he called for this Wednesday in Helena. He rightly disputed claims in a letter to the editor by Rep. Rick Ripley, R-Wolf Creek, that the governor had never requested $25 million for fires. The amount is in Schweitzer's original budget, and it was in a bill that was killed, on a party-line vote, by the Appropriations Committee on which Ripley sits. The session is needed, Schweitzer said, because 'we've got bills to pay' -- totaling about $34 million -- and the Legislature won't otherwise meet until 2009. 'I can't say to contractors, 'We're out of money, sorry.'" (emphasis NOT added - it was in the original editorial).

So, to review. The Montana Republican Party is now on record A) Attacking Montana state government for trying to stop buildings and homes from being burnt down B) Rejecting money to better fund firefighting while pushing massive tax cuts for out-of-state corporations and C) Lying about rejecting money to better fund firefighting.

I guess the best thing you could say about Sinrud after this is that at least he didn't use profanity, like his colleague Rep. Michael Lange (R) infamously did a few months ago. That said, most people will probably find his desire to see Montana homes and buildings burn down even more offensive than Lange's temper tantrum.

This has been your daily example of right-wing extremism -- and its destructive consequences.

Cross-posted from Working Assets