DENVER — U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyoming, ripped movie and TV star Kevin Costner during her speech at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver on Friday, saying the star of the hit show “Yellowstone” should stay in his lane politically.
“I really liked Kevin Costner better when he made baseball movies and stayed out of politics,” she said, drawing laughter from audience.
Costner endorsed Hageman’s Republican opponent during the 2022 campaign, former congresswoman Liz Cheney.
Last August, Cheney tweeted a photo of Costner on the set of the Dutton Ranch in the show, wearing a shirt that promoted her candidacy. Costner wore a white T-shirt with the message, “I’m for Liz Cheney” emblazoned on it.
“Real men put country over party,” Cheney said in the post.
Hageman poked at Costner’s support for Cheney on Friday, saying that Costner doesn’t know much about Wyoming politics and backed the “wrong horse” in her election.
“We sent his candidate back to Virginia where she belongs,” she said with a smile.
Hageman drew a comparison between Costner and other “coastal elites,” who she said are trying to control people in the West. She said progressives and members of the federal government aspire to be like Costner.
“I think it’s because they watch ‘Yellowstone’ on TV, they (think) they know all about us,” she said. “They probably believe Kevin Costner is a real cowboy.”
Although Costner had rode a horse before taking on his role of John Dutton in the show, that was the extent of his “cowboy” experience.
Hageman said Costner’s character and the federal government have a few things in common.
“When they watch Kevin Costner in that show, I think they kind of want to be like him,” she said. “Not necessarily because he’s a cowboy, but because he’s ruthless, he’s brutal and he’s a massive landowner.”
‘Bureaucrats’ And The ‘Elites’
Hageman also highlighted environmental and private property rights, receiving louder applause from the conservatives gathering in Denver than did 2024 presidential candidate and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who spoke before her.
“I'm also blessed to be the one member from Congress representing the great state of Wyoming,” she said, drawing a few cheers from the roughly 200 people in the audience.
Hageman said the federal government owns too much land, and that to bureaucrats, “if you don’t own property, you are property.”
“What makes it even worse, according to the bureaucrats in D.C., it’s not enough,” she added. “They want even more.”
Hageman said the West is being targeted for its natural resources and that the federal government aspires to remove Westerners’access to them.
“We need to start recognizing it for what it is,” she said. “It’s evil.”
She said if Wyoming voters don’t like the job she is doing, they can fire her in quick fashion.
In contrast, she said “unelected bureaucrats” who have the power to implement policies that can impact the U.S. in perpetuity are nearly impossible to remove. She said these people are out of touch with the country and reality.
“Employees in the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and Corps of Engineers have made it their life’s work to declare entire tracts of private land off-limits for use by the farmers and ranchers who own them,” Hageman said.
Private Property Too
Hageman said the Biden administration not only wants to manage use of federal lands, but also private property.
In April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan, which includes a section devoted to managing private property.
“The chill that just went down your spine is the feeling they’re coming for your land next,” she told the audience.
Hageman said most of these efforts are based around fighting climate change. She acknowledged the climate is changing, but also said it’s nothing new and something that “has been since the beginning of time.”
Hageman said fighting climate change has become “a state-sponsored religion” where those who say it’s destroying humanity worship “their twin deities, being Saint John Kerry and most blessed Greta Thunberg.”
Hageman said the Bureau of Land Management can do nothing to fight climate change. She also said the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been weaponized to include private property rights, and that the recovery of the Greater Yellowstone population of the grizzly bear has advanced enough to be removed from ESA protection.
“But the environmentalists will never let it go,” she said.
Hageman said President Joe Biden’s energy policies are designed to increase the cost of fuel, creating more motivation to transition to green energy.
“There is a special place in hell for people who adopt policies that are intended to increase the cost of housing, food and energy,” she said.
Hageman said “common sense conservatives” are gaining momentum on Capitol Hill and that her freshman class in Congress is taking a leading role in fighting the administrative state.
She said those on the East Coast despise self-sufficient, independent and strong families of the West.
“We must fight back, we must never give up,” she said.
Hutchinson received a few boos when he took the stage and only a modest applause after finishing.
The Arkansas governor has openly criticized former President Donald Trump in his 2024 campaign, and since the former president began his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
Hutchinson, who quickly mentioned he is running for president, spent most of his time focusing on his past experience and policy, very much giving the feel of a campaign stump speech. It was a significant departure from the comments made by the other speakers, who focused more broadly on the teaching of Christian values in schools and school choice.
“Our future is bright, the conservative philosophy is right for our country,” he said.
Hutchinson also gave a brief shoutout to Wyoming, complementing the Cowboy State for having the least in-classroom days restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hats off to Wyoming for being No. 1,” he said, drawing a short applause from the audience.
Although Colorado and Wyoming have significantly different political landscapes and cultures, many of the speakers at Friday’s conservative event would have fit in well at a Wyoming political rally.
Dudley Brown, president of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, offered a similar sentiment to that expressed by many Wyoming Republicans, claiming that illegitimate Republicans ruined his party’s power in Colorado.
Other speakers focused on the teaching of Christian values in schools, something many said they believe should be happening more.
“How would you describe education in America?” conservative advocate Mike Donnelly questioned the audience.
A few yelled out words like “broken” and “tragedy.”
Political commentator C.J. Pearson offered some advice to the Republican Party, which has fought against a changing American cultural and political landscape.
“We’ve got to cling to community, we’ve got to cling to tradition, we’ve got to cling to one another,” he said.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.