When a Montana lawmaker voted for an Idaho Congressman’s anti-public lands bill, all hell broke loose.

Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke
Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke

Rep. Ryan Zinke is Montana’s lone member of the House of Representatives. As such, he’s under a great deal of scrutiny, particularly when it comes to something Montanans treasure: public lands.

So when Zinke voted in favor of an anti-public lands bill authored by Idaho’s Rep. Raul Labrador, it was as popular in his home state as the punch bowl at Jim Jones’ funeral.

The whole thing started in a House Resource Committee hearing on June 15.

First, Zinke voted against a public land transfer bill authored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). Zinke was so proud of himself, he sent out this press release, titled, “Zinke does it again: Bucks party leaders and votes NO on transferring ownership of public lands.”

And then came Labrador’s bill, which would effectively hand over 4 million acres of public lands to state lawmakers and the special interests that pull their strings.

Ryan-Zinke-Screengrab-Zinke voted for it.

His constituents went ballistic.

Barraged by bad press from Billings, to Missoula, to Kalispell, to Bozeman and everywhere in between, Zinke was backed into a corner.

Forced to defend himself, Zinke sent an opinion piece to every newspaper in the state proclaiming, “I (will) never sell, give away, or transfer your public lands.”

Talk about an unwanted public relations disaster.

All for supporting Labrador’s toxic ideas.

It’s a good lesson. Labrador might be able to travel from one Idaho tea party rally to another, talking land transfer to urban California transplants who think the difference between deer and elk depends on their elevations.

But when it comes to Westerners who appreciate their Western heritage, Labrador’s scam to give away our lands to his campaign contributors runs into a buzz saw of resistance.

If he’s smart, Zinke will think twice before backing any more of Labrador’s land bills.

If he’s not, he may be out of a job in November.

All for supporting Labrador’s toxic ideas.