- When he came to Libby, campaigning for reelection in the fall of 2000, the Lincoln County GOP put on a gala reception for him at the VFW. But at one table a less festive group that included Les and Norita Skramstad, Gayla and Dave Benefield and Bob and Carrie Dedrick waited quietly to talk to Burns about the issue they cared about most -- asbestos.
Finally, Burns came out of the back room at the club, where he was meeting with local Republican officials and sat down at the table. Immediately Carrie Dedrick began asking him to help the victims in Libby. At that, Burns did not respond to Carrie, but instead looked directly across the table at Gayla. He shook a big finger in her face, and said, "Little Lady, when you stop tearing me down is when I start doing something to help the people of Libby."
Gayla got her own finger -- "The pointer, honestly," she would say later -- wagging right back in the senator's face. She replied, "Sir, I have not been on your ass or on TV talking about this, for six months, and you have done nothing in those six months, so don't try to use that as an excuse."
Burns tried another tack, telling the group that he had gotten W.R. Grace & Company to provide millions for medical screening. In the same firm, polite voice, Gayla said, "You are mistaken. Grace is not paying for the screening. Our tax dollars are."
At that point, Senator Burns decided to cut his losses, and got up and walked out of the room. Les had gotten up from the table earlier, and just happened to be standing quietly nearby when Burns came through the door and growled to an aide, "I had to come all the way here to put up with this shit?"
Burns, of course, carried Lincoln County handily in 2000, as did Bush in 2004. You have to ask: What kind of moral values were these folks voting for, anyway?
Ah well. Perhaps the only thing more astonishing than the Republican mendaciousness in posing as the party of "common people" is the Democrats' incompetence at revealing their pose for the fraud that it is.