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Guv Schweitzer and Jag
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Last year, at the Western Governor’s Conference in Deadwood, S.D., Schweitzer and two of the other governors decided to go out after work. Deadwood is the home of The Old Style Saloon No. 10, the infamous bar where Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back of the head while holding aces and eights. When the three governors arrived and entered with Jag, the bartender informed Schweitzer he couldn’t allow Jag in. “You’re telling me,” Schweitzer said to the bartender, “that this is the place they shoot people in the back of the head, where people ride their horses in and out, and you won’t serve me because I brought my dog?” The bartender’s only defense was to hide behind the rules. “So I told Jag, ‘We’re outta here.’ Then I turned to that bartender and I said to him, ‘Heck, we’ve been thrown out of better bars than this in Montana.’”

This evening, Schweitzer is speaking at the Holiday Inn. As the night draws to a close, he calls Jag to the podium.

“I learn every day from him,” Schweitzer says, placing a beefy hand on Jag’s head and warming up into what is a sure crowd-pleaser. “His manner is much different than mine. Jag comes to all these meetings and never says a word. If he likes someone, he’ll rub his nose up against them and they’ll scratch him. And if he doesn’t like them—like, say, with the lobbyists—he’ll kind of growl and slip away and go back under the desk. But in all these meetings and in all these speeches, he never says a word. All he does is if he likes you and likes what’s going on, he’ll wag his tail. So I think that after reelection I’m going to be wagging my tail a lot more and my tongue a lot less.”

White House Bound?
Of late, bloggers have been pushing the idea of Schweitzer for president. They like his easygoing manner and jokes. Schweitzer deflects all such inquiries, but the real question remains: Does Jag have any White House aspirations?
 
“This is the biggest town he’s lived in,” says Schweitzer, “and I don’t think he aspires to live anywhere bigger. You see, he doesn’t like lobbyists, and there’s not that many in Helena and there’s a whole lot more in Washington, D.C. I don’t think he’d like the smell of that town at all.” Then there’s the famous Schweitzer pause and, “I know I don’t.”

Well, we’ll just have to wait and see, because both are quick on their feet, and at least one of them is a political dog.

 

 

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 46: Jan/Feb 2008
Charles Finn is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High County News. He recently moved from Montana to Bend, Ore. hcn.org

Photograph by Chad Harder

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