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"The country is gonna go to the bow-wows"

WYOMING

To say that former Sen. Alan Simpson, 79, of Wyoming doesn’t mince words is putting it tepidly. On MSNBC’s Hardball TV show recently, he blasted presidential hopefuls from his own Republican Party because of their positions on social issues: “Who the hell is for abortion?” he asked. “I don’t know anybody running around with a sign that says, ‘Have an abortion, they’re wonderful.’ They’re hideous. But they’re a deeply intimate and personal decision, and I don’t think men legislators should even vote on the issue.” Simpson didn’t stop there, attacking potential presidential candidates from his party who oppose gay rights and declaring that he won’t stick with Republican “homophobes” who hypocritically indulge in affairs while giving speeches about moral values. You can find a small cache of Simpson’s quotes through the years on the Web; here’s a pithy example: “An educated man is thoroughly inoculated against humbug, thinks for himself and tries to give his thoughts in speech or on paper, some style.” And here’s a more recent quote from during the time Simpson was working on reforming the federal budget: “The country is gonna go to the bow-wows unless we deal with entitlements, Social Security and Medicare.”

MONTANA

Another straight shooter when it comes to controversial issues is Montana State Rep. Alan Hale, a Republican who hails from the tiny town of Basin. Hale unabashedly backs drinking while driving and opposes efforts by some of his fellow legislators to put teeth in the state’s notoriously permissive DUI laws. Passing sterner driving-under-the-influence laws became big news this year after several “high-profile drunken driving deaths,” reports the Missoulian, but Hale, citing the needs of far-flung taverns that bring locals together, calls reform a mistake: “These DUI laws are not doing our small businesses in our state any good at all. They are destroying them.” Unfortunately, reform took a hit earlier this year when it was revealed that one of the leaders, Republican State Sen. Jim Shockley, was arrested in January for drinking while driving. As if to illustrate how lightly the law now treats drinking drivers, Shockley’s fine for getting caught with an open beer was a paltry $51.

From our friends

HCN in the outhouses of the West

From my Alaska trip: I flew into a small town that is not reachable by road, then hopped on a motorboat and drove across lakes and rivers for 2.5 hours to reach the scientists' camp way out in the boondocks -- out there they have a few rough cabins and a generator that makes electricity only in the evening and two outhouses -- and lo and behold, for reading material in the outhouses they have issues of the Economist magazines and HCN -- amazing to discover HCN readers way out there!

Ray Ring, HCN Senior Editor

Serious words from a devoted reader:

"I've been a big fan of HCN since a friend first donated a subscription to me...I've received piles of HCN on at least four continents at this point. So, you see, the printed magazine, in the past 20 years, has become part of the warp and weft of my life and I am unwilling to leave it behind..."

Paul Brockmann, constant traveler