Will Wilson is a former GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Three weeks ago, Montana House Majority Leader Michael Lange got nasty on the chamber floor, replete with profanity and unpleasant anatomical imagery.
As of yesterday, Mr. Lange is no longer the Montana House Majority Leader, ousted from the leadership by his own party. Scuttlebutt suggests that he was tossed as much for his inability to shepherd Republican tax and budget plans as for his tirade -- Lange's nastiness was applauded at the time -- but the ouster seems commendable nonetheless.
When Lange first lost it, I noted that comments on the news item were nearly as ugly as his behavior. The legislators' blow for civility, if that's what sacking Lange was, did little to change the ethos of the state's politics; the comments on the news that Lange had been canned quickly turned divisive and then, just as I thought might happen in the original comments, someone proved Godwin's Law by comparing Lange to Hitler. And not only Hitler, but also Mussolini, Castro, Tito, Khrushchev and Nixon.(Khrushchev? Nixon?)
No one is going to nominate Lange for Man of the Millennium, but let's get some perspective: His behavior was unbecoming an elected official and he rightly lost the leadership, but the man got angry over taxes. Who hasn't?
I never would have thought it three weeks ago, but if the comments are any indication, Lange might be less inflammatory than the folks he represents.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.