Thanks to several tipsters who attended for supplying me with the dope. Your tips make this blog possible.
1. Lotsa billionaires coming and going. Including Warren Buffett, Barry Diller, Bob Iger, Steve Balmer. Each sung Baucus’s praises before they spoke to the assembly. Whether the presence of these magnates appeals to Montana voters, and what these big shots expect in return, are serious questions. But, they probably filled up hotel rooms in Butte, and hopefully it got Montana some attention in corporate America.
2. Some fireworks. Schweitzer mixed it up with the CEO of Travelocity for unpaid corporate taxes, at the same time Travelocity was announcing with Baucus that it has decided to spend money promoting Montana on its website. As for Expedia, which also owes Montana money, it sounds like a much anticipated showdown predicted between Schweitzer and Expedia chief Barry Diller, who was also in attendance at the conference, did not materialize. Perhaps Diller ducked out the back door.
3. Democrats being lauded by Warren Buffett. Trillionaire Warren Buffett said Montana (and therefore Democrats, i.e. a Democratic Administration and Democrats in the legislature who fought for the Administration’s priorities, as well as four Democrats in the other state-wide offices) is “doing everything right” when it comes to managing the economy. I wonder if Chamber of Commerce members were applauding.
4. Me, selling my GE shares. Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, arrived with not one but two corporate jets, one of which, according to a well-placed source, was a spare. If it is true, I am selling my stock in GE (or rather, I would sell it if I owned any). So should you. So far, I have received no response from the GE public affairs department confirming or denying this outrage.*
5. Disney Chief Bob Iger, revealing that he began his career as a weatherman. Maybe that means a blogger has a chance, too.
6. Tester, surprisingly absent from the proceedings. Only a video appearance. No sightings of Jon at this event. Why?
7. A notable lack of discussion of health-care.
8. Tim Ravndal, roaming the crowd (no joke). The Tea Party has an “axe Max” chapter, and evidently they sent Ravndal, the tough and seasoned political operative, to case the event in pursuit of this cause. Or, perhaps he was dumpster diving for evidence of conspiracies. Plus there were free doughnuts and soda. Maybe he brought a sack and a thermos and loaded up.
9. Recently ejected Schweitzer administration directors Tony Preite and Betsy Baumgart, greeting and gripping the crowd, seeming very much in their element and appearing to be already employed in some other capacity.
10. Walt Schweitzer wearing a suit.
*UPDATE: Here is a tardy response, and seemingly “a non-denial denial”, from the GE spokesperson regarding Mr. Immelt’s travel arrangements, which have not gone unremarked upon by the media in the past:
Hello. Mr. Immelt manages 150,000 American workers, 300,000 workers worldwide, and the world’s most widely-held security. The GE board of directors thus requires that Mr. Immelt use corporate aircraft for safety and security purposes.
As for your other “fact[s]”…they aren’t.
Director, Executive Communications
He doesn’t deny that there were two jets in Butte, but rather implies that Mr. Immelt used the extra jet in Butte for security, not convenience, and thus my “facts were wrong.”
Somehow, I suspect that most other CEOs of publicly traded Fortune 500 companies make do with one jet, and are perfectly safe.