It’s not easy to campaign for Governor of Montana when you haven’t lived here for 40 years.
I’d gotten a tip that Neil Livingstone had begun airing TV ads, and so I went to Youtube to see what I could find.There are no Livingstone TV ads on Youtube, but I found something much, much better. It is a professionally produced, six minute “official campaign video,” with a voice narration made to sound like it’s a reporter doing an extended news story about a day in the life of the Livingstone-Zinke campaign.
And what a peach it its.
Let’s get right to the climax of the video, and work back from there. Livingstone, at around the 3:35 mark, states emphatically that he is “a blue collar Republican” and “not a country club Republican.”
Indeed, his wardrobe bears this out. Throughout the video, he is dressed in what appear to be:
- a hounds-tooth brushed suede Ralph Lauren shirt;
- a blue mock turtle-neck merino wool zip-up pullover by Hugo Boss (or maybe its green),
- and a black cashmere weekend sport coat by Prada, with satin arm patches.
At the outset of this comedic six-minute video, the narrator tells us that we should be amazed that this video encompasses a period of time in which Livingstone made “twenty-four campaign stops in three days…a break neck pace that only an international businessman could handle.”
We are then told that the objective of a Livingstone administration will be to “rebuild Montana.” We are also informed that campaign staffers enjoy referring to Livingstone and Zinke as “the dynamic duo.” (The staffers are shown posing for a photo with the candidates. Does anyone recognize them? I would suspect not; they are likely from Washington DC.)
Livingstone is shown getting off his bus and chatting up Montana citizens and business owners. He is interviewed at intervals, and gives us his usual charismatic discussion of how the state has “too much regulation” and a “terrible business climate” and a “lack of natural resource development” (all of these aspersions being the opposite of reality)
Livingstone says he will “fix” Montana, by developing oil and gas and coal. But he also has a novel new proposal, which he unveils during a visit to a local Butte butcher. Livingstone proposes that he will “put traditional moneymakers, like beef, back on the menu.”
“Why shouldn’t Montana beef be popular in Tokyo,” he asks, “the way Chilean sea bass is in America?”
Livingstone is certainly familiar with Chilean sea bass. In his days as a high-powered lobbyist, Livingstone was known around Washington as “deep mouth,” for his love of fine dining. The daily newspaper Roll Call once reported that Livingstone had set a world record by eating at the finest restaurant in Washington a total of 88 times in a 57 day period.
Note to Neil: most Montanans have probably never eaten Chilean sea bass.
Speaking of not understanding basic concepts, most of the video is shot in Butte. I’m not sure if Livingstone understands this, but there aren’t many votes for him to find in Butte. It is a rock-hard Democratic city.
Livingstone also cautions us that beyond the failure of Montana to develop our natural resources and get rid of excessive reguations, there is a far greater threat: grizzly bears. We are shown a photo of a cattle ranch and a few bears which supposedly invaded the ranch to steal the cows’ food. And we are shown a picture of a dead wolf, shot “near a residential area,” we are told. These are the grave problems facing Montana which the statesman Neil Livingstone will address. And, of course, Livingstone says that “Washington elites” are to blame for these terrible problems.
Washington elites. Hmmm. This is a candidate who is a member of the super-elite, ultra-exclusive “Cosmos Club,” a 130-year-old-social club where Washington’s elite socialites come to play bridge and chess, drink champagne and talk politics. The club’s dress policy states that “Casual slacks, denim, beachwear, T-shirts, and athletic attire or athletic footwear are not appropriate.” However, blue collar members like Livingstone can take consolation in the fact that “The dress code for male members is relaxed from Memorial Day (last Monday in May) to Labor Day (first Monday in September) when gentlemen are not required to wear a necktie in the Club.”
Also to be seen in this world class video production is a shot of what is supposed to be the Montana Senate, presented to the viewer while the narrator is describing Ryan Zinke’s career as an ace legislator. There’s only one problem: the Senate chamber seen in the photo is not from the Montana Capitol building, but from some other state.
Nevertheless, this video has gotten an extraordinary reception by the internet viewing public. The video was posted exactly two months ago. As of last night (as you can see from my screenshot), the video had been viewed by a total of….twelve people.