Warm Up the Freedom Fries

By Beacon Staff

A poster for the 1989 film “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” has U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg’s and Montana Republican Chairman Erik Iverson’s heads superimposed in place of those of the starring, time-traveling high school slackers. Across cyberspace, a video accuses Gov. Brian Schweitzer of favoring tax credits for Hollywood instead of Montana firefighters.

Oh, the most excellent world of political Web sophistication.

In the last several months both the Montana Dems and GOP have revamped their respective Web sites, making them easier to navigate, increasingly interactive and far more hilarious than ever before.

The Bill & Ted poster on the Dems’ site is, of course, poking fun at Rehberg and Iverson. Apparently, as Montana’s forests went up in flames, the pair was junketing in Brazil, Argentina and France. Jim Farrell, Montana Democrats’ executive director, pointed out that Rehberg was likely “perusing the artists’ stalls along the Seine.”

Farrell knows a bit too much about traveling through Paris for my liking and Rehberg should know better than to travel there at all. France! Zut alors! Someone pass me the Freedom Fries.

Besides, I thought the Republicans had cornered the France-bashing market. Also on the Dems’ Web site is a contest offering $100 for the best Republican Secretary of State Brad Johnson metaphor. Talk about using the Web to its advantage. Hilarious.

The state GOP has walked in lockstep with their opponents – sprucing up a Web site that previously bordered on worthless. Newly-elected Iverson pledged in his acceptance speech to boost the GOP’s Web presence. The site now features a video advertisement depicting a backdrop of flames and an apocalyptic-sounding voiceover that reminds voters that Schweitzer has raised thousands of dollars in California and offered tax breaks to Hollywood movie studios as an incentive to film in Montana, but no breaks for firefighters.

Hollyweird! California! Sounds to me like our governor is moonlighting as a hippie.

The Republicans have also launched their own blog and promptly accused Sen. Jon Tester of flip-flopping in regard to his views on earmarks. Flip flops! I smell tree hugger. Next we’re liable to see a video of Tester – through the magic of special effects – windsurfing in Big Sandy.

Another video on the GOP’s Web site, set to funky music, calls out U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., for failing to pay $10,000 in taxes on time. Oh, and it accuses him of living in a multi-million dollar home in Washington, D.C., which, to me, is just as bad as not paying your taxes

Back on the Dems’ site, there is a link to the Montana Democratic Party’s MySpace page – one of those crazy social networking sites. As of last week, the party had 131 friends, one of which is named Ducky. The GOP’s knees are wobbling.

An emphasis on the Web is a little new for both parties, at least at the state level. And there has been much debate about its importance. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean rode a wave of momentum when he ran for president in 2004 – largely due to his “grassroots” Web presence. That wave, however, dissipated soon after a handful of primaries and a YouTube-worthy shriek.

As Montana candidates are sorted out in the run-up to the 2008 elections, it’s nice to know that both parties are already driving relevant issues down the information highway. My “boycott France” bumper sticker is so faded I almost forgot about it. And California? Don’t get me started.

That “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” parody sure brought me back. It reminded me of how excellent our politicians’ lackeys are at simplifying complex issues. Wait, wasn’t that movie filmed in Hollywood?

That’s bogus.