The West got a fairly prominent place on the Convention agenda Tuesday when Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer spoke just before Hillary Clinton. The Pepsi Center was packed for the event (in anticipation of Clinton). It was so full that many journalists and other credentialed folks actually had to watch both Schweitzer's and Clinton's speeches on television monitors inside the Center (the HCN team was able to elbow its way into a hallway to watch Clinton, from the back).
Schweitzer was decked out in a shiny bolo tie, cowboy boots, and perhaps jeans. Surprisingly, 90 percent of the politicians and delegates so far do not seem to be striving to dress "Western." Very few cowboy hats (I counted three in the audience in the Pepsi Center). Not many cowboy boots. Very few bolo ties -- even New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson sported a neck tie during Clinton's speech. Most people are just wearing suits.
But back to Schweitzer's speech. Most of it was pretty predictable. He didn't even make many of his famous Schweitzerisms (in which he affects a colloquial twang, goofy grammar and crazy analogies with a rural twist). He did, however, say things like this:
... in Montana-we have cut more taxes for more Montanans than any time in history, increased energy production at the fastest rate in the history of Montana, invested more new money in education than ever before and we created the largest budget surplus in the history of Montana. That's the kind of change we brought to Montana, and that's the kind of change President Barack Obama is going to bring to America.
There it is again, the energy theme that seems to be threading its way through almost every aspect of this convention. It's nice he's talking about it on a national stage, but all of that increased production might make the greenies -- or anybody with a drill rig in their backyard -- a bit nervous. Schweitzer toed the new Democratic party line of, "We can't drill our way out of this crisis." And he said that we need "clean, green and American made" energy. He couldn't resist this zinger:
We simply can't drill our way to energy independence, even if you drilled in all of John McCain's backyards, including the ones he can't even remember.
Sounds great. But what's he really talking about? Here's what: a bit of wind and some ethanol. And quite a bit of fossil fuels. That increased energy production in Montana? A sprinkling of wind, but mostly coal, natural gas, and oil from the Bakken formation, one of the nation's biggest oil fields.
American-made? Yes. Clean and green? Maybe not.