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Maybe it’s the effect of some rousing swearing-in parties last week, but the 2009 Montana Legislature doesn’t seem on top of its game just yet. It’s like Abraham Lincoln said: “You cannot sober the inebriated by inebriating the sober.” Okay, he never said that. He also never said any of the eight similarly sounding quotes House Minority Leader Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, rattled off in his opening address. Several of the maxims he used contain enough turn-of-the-century anti-labor undertones to at least question the Wikipedia source—especially since Lincoln died in 1865—but GOP compatriots instead requested copies of the misattributed material.

In all fairness, though, the Legislature was probably occupied with a full plate of whole-wheat pancakes with huckleberry syrup—the new state flapjack if Sen. Carolyn Squires, D-Missoula, gets her way. While we’re huge fans of pancakes, we’re even bigger fans of Paul’s Pancake Parlor, and considering the Brooks Street establishment doesn’t offer huckleberry syrup, we’re leaning “nay” on this important bill.

Meanwhile, cross-town Republican Rep. Bill Nooney proposed adopting a country ballad by Alberton resident Jerry McGowan as the official state love song. McGowan’s “Montana” is as sweet as huckleberry syrup, but we were hoping for something a little edgier. Perhaps Nooney could listen to the old Tarkio song, “Helena Won’t Get Stoned,” for some sonic inspiration. 

In other opening week news, Sen. Linda Moss, D-Billings, wants to designate the working dog as Montana’s official dog. As long as it’s on a leash and not named Jag, we’re cool with that. After all, Missoulians are suckers for anything canine related.

Speaking of dogs, we can’t help but bark at a bill introduced by Rep. Ted Washburn, R-Bozeman, that would eliminate same-day voter registration in Montana just three months after GOP strategist Jake Eaton’s disastrous scheme to challenge voter registries. Arguments that same-day registration costs too much money or causes logistical headaches for election officials still doesn’t outweigh the importance of counting all the votes. Lincoln put it best when he said, “You cannot suppress the voters by voting for suppression.” Or something like that.

The Legislature’s slow start gives us pause as we turn our attention to a different swearing-in set for Tuesday, Jan. 20. Hopefully Barack Obama’s highly anticipated first 100 days involves more work than talk of working dogs. You know, after the first family decides on a labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound.

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