A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

25 August 2017 — 2137 mdt

Did Wrasslin’ Greg smile for his mug shot?


We don’t know — yet. As per his standard policy, Gallatin Attorney Marty Lambert is refusing to release the mug shot of Rep. Greg Gianforte unless a court orders him to do so. But Gianforte probably didn’t smile. I think that’s against the rules. And being forced to be fingerprinted, and to pose for a booking photograph — to be treated like a common criminal — is nothing to smile about.

Not releasing mug shots before a conviction is good policy. After a conviction, treating them as confidential criminal justice information makes no sense. Lambert, a Republican, is covering his southern exposure. And playing both sides, as he asked the court to order Gianforte to submit to being photographed and fingerprinted. The Bozeman Chronicle already has asked the court to order the mug shot released.

Will Gianforte fight the release of his mug shot? That’s possible. But he’d be a fool to resist. He doesn’t have a good argument to keep the photo secret. Nor can he reasonably expect the photo to remain secret. Resisting just puts the date of its release closer to election day; no political benefit attaches to that.

Montana’s Democrats, of course, are smiling; and in private, whooping with joy. By the time the 2018 campaign ends, the MDP plans to make Wrasslin’ Greg a villian so loathsome that even Linda McMahon would refuse to employ him.

In fact, unless the Democrats nominate an immigrant from Pennsylvania (where Gianforte grew up), such as John Heenan, the MDP probably will find a way to combine the expletive Jersey Gianforte with Wrasslin’ Greg in a single 30-second television ad aimed at Montana’s xenophobes.

But if Heenan gets the nomination, Gianforte could retaliate with Pennsylvania John, or perhaps worse, The John from Pennsylvania, with the Pennsylvania Polka playing in the background.

That’s why I don’t completely discount rumors that Tester and Hilltop are seeking a Real Montanan as the Democratic congressional candidate; someone born, reared, and educated under the Big Sky; someone who never set foot outside the state, or even thought about doing so; sort of the northern equivalent of a Cajun who never left the bayou but now wants to live in Washington, D.C.

My advice to the MDP: focus on how Wrasslin’ Greg is mugging health care and public lands, not on how he mugged Ben Jacobs or on how he resisted mugging for Gallatin County’s criminal justice camera. My advice to the court: order Lambert to release a high resolution mugshot. My advice to Gianforte: find a way to turn back the clock and reset history. That’s the only way to put your direct action behind you.