If you’re paying any attention to what Montana’s congressman is doing (Intelligent Discontent is), you probably know that Dennis Rehberg has spent the last two weeks defending his controversial earmark on a House spending bill. The earmark, or “rider” as it is known, was so bad, Rehberg’s own party leaders had to pull it from the bill yesterday amid an uproar from health advocates and anti-smoking groups.
As The Hill reports:
“Rehberg’s language was seen as controversial, and even Rehberg himself agreed to remove the language from the bill.”
Immediately after Rehberg introduced and passed the earmark in his committee two weeks ago, the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the American Academy of Pediatrics—to name just a few—sent urgent warnings to members of Congress.
Rehberg tried to require the FDA to make regulations based only on what he calls “hard science.” If he had his way, tobacco companies would get free rein to market cigarettes to kids by adding menthol and flavorings. It means schools lunches don’t have to stick to basic nutrition standards. The unintended consequences of Rehberg’s sloppy earmark abound.
But apparently Rehberg had no clue about the controversy until just this week, when he finally agreed to pull his earmark under intense pressure from everyone but Montana’s press corps.
That’s right, major national newspapers have been covering the Rehberg earmark daily.
The LA Times editorialized even against it. U.S. News and World Report called it“gibberish”—slamming Montana’s Congressman in the process. After this story crossed yesterday questioning Rehberg’s ties to big tobacco, his Twitter trend tanked. Even Larry David’s ex-wife jumped into the debate (yes, that Larry David).
But incredibly, not a single newspaper or reporter in Montana has written about the controversial Rehberg earmark (I take that back, Missoula Independent, I guess you sort of did).
I know Montana editors aren’t known for allowing their reporters to aim for ace journalism, but come on!
As for the earmark itself, it’s yet another classic example of Rehberg shooting first, then asking questions later.
Sloppy legislation is what happens when, after a full decade in Congress, a lazy millionaire goat collector finally tries to do something other than name post offices.