By Bill Sniffin, publisher
The death of retired U. S. Sen. Mike Enzi in a freak bicycle accident sort of defined the year 2021 for me.
Like all of us, he had endured 2020 both as the year of the pandemic and as a dumpster fire we just wanted to put behind us. He was looking forward to 2021 as his first year of retirement and as a year of recovery.
Alas, Mike died and 2021 just did not get any better. As the year ground on, we watched in amazement as the Democrat administration of new President Joe Biden tried to re-make the country into some hybrid form of the most liberal thinkers’ wildest dreams.
I call 2021 the beginning of the “silly season.” Literally, it has been a time when every progressive professor has gotten to unleash his or her “silly” scheme on the rest of the country. From open borders to boys competing in sporting events as girls to spending trillions of taxpayer dollars. It has been a fiasco and I am glad to see to 2021 in my rear-view mirror.
This is my annual column taking a look back at the previous year. Other top events of 2021:
• The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic continued, but here in Wyoming, our population remained the most stubbornly un-vaxxed place in the country. A majority of our people do not like masks and they really do not like mask mandates.
The foolishness peaked when an unmasked Laramie schoolgirl was handcuffed and escorted from her school by uniformed police. Really?
• Our U. S. Rep. Liz Cheney and her feud with former President Donald Trump bubbled to the top in 2021. This is ugly and it was personal in 2021. Stay tuned.
• Wyoming apparently decided it loves nukes in 2021. And I do, too. The plan to build nuclear power plants in Wyoming, starting at the site of a Kemmerer coal-fired power plant, is a great one. Well done.
• Just about everybody in Wyoming who owned a house got rich in 2021. This is very, very good news. A great many homes doubled in value this past year. Folks want to move here and they are bringing their checkbooks with them. This probably should have been the biggest story of the year. It was the biggest good news story, that’s for sure.
• Another good news story is the premature belief that fossil fuels are dead. Oil was at $80 per barrel and even coal shipments increased during the year. This was in spite of Biden’s silly advisors shutting down as much in-country fossil fuel development as possible and then begging the Arabs to pump more oil so we could import it. This is not only silly, it’s criminal. Just 18 months ago, we were exporting energy. And gasoline at the pump was $1 lower. You can’t make this stuff up.
• State government was in turmoil as it operated on the assumption that we were in deep financial trouble. Then billions of Biden’s “silly money” rolled in and severance taxes spiked because of fossil fuel prices going up. So elected state leaders were left discussing mask mandates.
• While dozens of Indian girls go missing across the country each year, in 2021, the whole country went berserk when a pretty blond girl named Gabby Petito disappeared here in Wyoming. Her body was ultimately found in northwestern Wyoming. Her boyfriend’s body was found later in Florida. Case closed. But it pointed up the disparity of how the national media covers missing persons cases. If you are blond and pretty — good luck. If you are dark skinned — tough luck.
• President Biden’s inept abandonment of Afghanistan was personal for Wyoming as a young Jackson man, Rylee McCollum, was among 13 servicemen and women killed in a suicide bombing that occurred as American troops provided security for people attempting to flee the country.
• Bear stories were in abundance in 2021 and Miss #399, the queen of Jackson Hole, was the star with her four almost full-grown cubs. These five giants roamed Jackson Hole with impunity and were probably photographed a million times.
• Tourism had an-all-time record year. It was a great year to be in the hospitality industry – if you had enough employees. The most ubiquitous sign in Wyoming (and the entire country) was “help wanted.” This problem was also blamed on Biden policies that increased unemployment benefits, leading people to stay home rather than get jobs.
• Ag folks dealt with low prices (while big packers made a killing) and also drought conditions in much of the state. Big ranches continued to be bought up by outsiders.
• As the year ended, our Cowboy football team won the Famous Potato Bowl in Boise and then watched in dismay as nine of our best players jumped ship with the transfer portal. Now that was really a downer way to end a year that already was not so happy,
• Next up: looking ahead to 2022.