Dave Simpson: Ahab Institute Coming To Jackson?

Columnist Dave Simpson writes: "Unless Liz opens the Captain Ahab Institute for the Pursuit of The Great White Donald Trump Whale in Jackson Hole, I predict our news media appeal will quickly fade."

Dave Simpson

August 23, 20224 min read

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Some observations before the afterglow from our exciting time in the national spotlight fades, and we go back to being Flyover Country hayseeds:

– Political reporters were drawn to Jackson Hole in their coverage of the Cheney-Hageman race, because the anticipated concession speech by Liz would take place there. But the constant reporting from Jackson – a rare county where Cheney was stronger than Hageman – created the impression that the Tetons and the Jackson Town Square represent all of Wyoming.

It’s a nice image to project, but anyone who thinks all of Wyoming looks like the view from Moran Junction has never been to Wamsutter. Or Bill. Or Tie Siding. Or Hubbard’s Mountain Cupboard.

Outsiders sometimes assume that Cheyenne looks like Jackson, not realizing that the Tetons are a very long day’s drive from Cheyenne.

Like coastal elites who figure that if you visited Denver, you logically spent an afternoon taking in the Grand Canyon. Geography eludes many coastal elites, and it’s not worth their precious time to learn about gomers like us.


For a while there, we were like the girl with a half dozen guys asking her to the prom. Every newscast included fresh takes on what was going on in Wyoming, and our least populated state was on everyone’s mind. We were the Belle of the Ball.


– On the way to Jackson, a Fox political correspondent reported from downtown Cheyenne, and (obligatory) rodeos in Laramie and Wheatland, where the take on Liz was either a feisty Wyoming gal with grit, or a politician gone hopelessly D.C. native in her relentless pursuit of former President Donald Trump.

Unless Liz opens the Captain Ahab Institute for the Pursuit of The Great White Donald Trump Whale in Jackson Hole – because she says pursuing the evil Trump is now the most important job she has ever had – I predict our news media appeal will quickly fade. It will be like that old song, “You Don’t Send Me Flowers Anymore.”

My wife (pretty smart) says that’s probably a good thing, because people who don’t live in Wyoming don’t understand Wyoming.

And never will.

– I kept seeing a video on TV of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy with Jackson Hole Ski Area trams in the background, and wondered what the ding-dong heck he was doing in Jackson, where there are precious few GOP votes. Turns out McCarthy was in pursuit of the only thing more precious than votes: dollars. He was there for a fat-cat fund raiser, at which even the biggest fat cat of all, Elon Musk, was in attendance.

I don’t know about you, but the prospect of McCarthy as Speaker of the House come January does not fill me with confidence. (No surprise that Liz agrees.)  I think he lacks the heft of a Newt Gingrich. But, obviously, he would be far better than State of the Union Speech ripping embarrassment Nancy Pelosi.

In the words of Mick Jagger, “You don’t always get what you want.”

Goes double  in politics.

– Two old friends – one from Cheyenne, the other from Casper, both lifelong residents of Wyoming – LAUGHED when I asked if Liz Cheney could hold onto her seat in Congress with the help of Democrats crossing over to vote in the Republican primary. Both found the concept patently ridiculous in Wyoming, where Democrats are roughly as plentiful as black-footed ferrets.

Right they were.

– Another lifelong resident, this one from charming Rawlins, told me she wrote to Liz a while back telling her that she had never written to a politician before, but that she was writing to say she would NEVER vote for Liz again.

In the immortal words of Taylor Swift: “Ever, ever, ever.”

(One of the endearing things about lifelong Wyoming residents is their crustiness.)

– Tucker Carlson reported on election night that Liz Cheney’s net worth is now $43 million, up from $7 million when she took office six years ago. So we don’t have to worry about her living on the street somewhere in northern Virginia.

And there will be plenty of seed money for the Captain Ahab Institute in Jackson.

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.