Rod Miller: Debate in the Cowboy State? Great!

Columnist Rod Miller says he does his best to help with climate change. "...all those bubbles rising in a frosty glass of Pabst Blue Ribbon are bubbles of that dreaded gas. When I drink it all down, I am sequestering carbon in my body, thus doing my part to save humanity."

Rod Miller

November 12, 20234 min read

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Word on the ol’ sagebrush telegraph has it that Governor Gordon has accepted a challenge from some Wyoming Freedom Caucus folks to debate the ins & outs of climate change.

Sen. Cheri Steinmetz joined with a bunch of the starboard side of the GOP legislators to throw down the gauntlet and Gordon has picked it up. I, for one, am tickled pink!

We’ve all had a bellyful of Wyoming politicos sniping at one another from behind their respective rocks, and a formal public debate will be a refreshing change.

Each side will have their team of tame scientists as seconds backing them up, so it looks like this will be a duel among slide rules instead of a scripture quotin’ contest. That, too, will be refreshing. 

The relative merits of carbon capture will be thoroughly aired out, hopefully with more light than heat.

My own cadre of crack scientific minds constantly reminds me to do my bit to prevent carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere. They have pointed out that all those bubbles rising in a frosty glass of Pabst Blue Ribbon are bubbles of that dreaded gas. When I drink it all down, I am sequestering carbon in my body, thus doing my part to save humanity.

But I digress.

Political debate is a cornerstone tradition of democracy in our republic. Boil down our legislative bodies to their bare essence, and they are at their root debating societies. From the halls of Congress to city hall, differing points of view are publicly discussed and the intellectual jousting (at least in theory) will result in the best course of action being chosen.

Down through our history, American political debate has run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous. From the stateliness of the Lincoln/Douglas debates, through the game-changing Nixon/ Kennedy debates down to the wince-inducing, slobber- slingin’ screeching matches of today’s presidential “debates”. 

But the fundamentals remain the same – representatives of divergent paths of political thought, standing up on their hind legs in front of God and all the people and hashing out their differences for all to see. 

This debate between Gordon and political opponents from his own party should be a welcome change from the snarky, petulant potshots they take at each other via media soundbites and customary social media warfare. I have my fingers crossed that they can pull it off and marginally change the paradigm of political discourse in the Big Empty.

The topic of global climate change and Wyoming’s place in the discussion is a worthy one indeed. Tackling meaty issues like this beats the hell out of arguing who is a woman and whether or not books are turning our kids into juvenile delinquents

If Gordon et al can civilly debate the future of humanity, perhaps they can make the discussions about those marginal culture war issues more meaningful. Here’s hoping.

The risk, though, is that the participants will use this occasion for more political posturing and less public information. Deja vu all over again.

There’s even a rumor going around the ol’ campfire that Sen. Steinmetz counts herself among the growing number of Republicans who are drooling over the governor’s office once Gordon vacates the premises. Some of the gossip has Congresswoman Harriet Hageman already promising to endorse Steinmetz for that seat. 

Those lonesome trail-sour ol’ cowboys sure love to gossip.

All that aside, I applaud Gordon and his challengers for bringing their conversation out into the public square. I hope the event is a rousing success and changes how we talk to one another about Wyoming politics...face to face instead of behind each other’s backs.

Rod Miller can be reached at:

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Rod Miller

Political Columnist