Friday, September 12, 2008

Some colorful rural language in a news report out of Montana

When Brian Schweitzer, Governor of Montana, spoke at the Democratic National Convention a coupla' weeks ago, he was touted as very popular in his home state -- especially for a Democrat. A story in today's New York Times may shed light on one of the reasons for that popularity, even though the gist of the story is somewhat negative. It seems that Schweitzer is quite a talker, and he's in the habit of using some pretty colorful language. The problem is that he used some of this colorful language (including references to a "pregnant nun") in a speech this summer in which he suggested that "he had used his position to influence the outcome of the 2006 Senate race in favor of a fellow Democrat, Jon Tester." As journalist Kirk Johnson notes, "Tester’s narrow victory helped to swing majority control of the United States Senate to the Democrats." The Governor's spokeswoman has explained that Schweitzer was only "horsing around."

But there's more colorful language -- including some that seems quintessentially rural -- in Kirk Johnson's report. He writes:
Attorney General Mike McGrath, a Democrat, declined the request, but he and Mr. Johnson [Secretary of State] both took the opportunity to play smack a mole, with Mr. Schweitzer as the mole.
That interesting turn of phrase could be rural reference since one meaning of mole is a small, wild mammal. My google of "smack a mole" turned up references to reality TV, but I'm still not sure to what the phrase refers.

Then there's this wonderfully rural quote from Erik Iverson, chair of the state's Republican Party, who suggests that Schweitzer has become "a little too big for his britches." It makes Montana sound like a pretty colorful, down-home sort of place to be.

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