Rod Miller: Mark Gordon Ain’t No Will Kane

Columnist Rod Miller writes, "Give me a break. Saying you’ll duke it out and then backing down? Any respect I had for Mark Gordon as a political leader vanished with his 'lets get it on' followed by his 'no mas.' Maybe he just wasn’t cut out to be a cowboy."

Rod Miller

November 22, 20234 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

When Gary Cooper, as Will Kane, stepped out into the street to face down the outlaws in “High Noon," he set the bar pretty high for cowboys who know they are in the right. Without the backing of his bride, the townspeople or anything but the courage of his convictions, he stepped out into the street.

Mark Gordon ain’t no Will Kane.

Challenged to a public debate by the Wyoming Freedom Caucus about climate change, Gordon first accepted then backed down

Throughout his tenure, I have been pretty soft on Gordon. The past few years haven’t been easy ones to be Governor of Wyoming, so I’ve cut him some slack.

From his slobbering over the Occidental land sale, through his tepid responses to Covid and culture war, I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt. 

I even gave him a pass when he let the rigid right wing of his party all but take up residence in the Mansion without a hint of pushback from him. After all, this is a tough time to be Wyoming’s governor.

But his limp-wristed, un-cowboylike bailing out of a public debate on his policies is one straw too many. It's time he was called on the carpet.

Sure, he’s at the tail end of his last term, and yeah there would be no political point in getting into a pissing match with the Full Gospel Gun & Glee Club at this late date. 

Maybe the Freedom Caucus’s mind is made up and facts won’t change that. Could be that such a debate would descend into a knuckle-draggin’ rhetorical barfight and no light would be shed on the topic at hand. 

But give me a break. Saying you’ll duke it out and then backing down? 

Gordon, in so doing, is no better than the shopkeepers and accountants who wring their hands about “right & wrong” but don’t have the balls to step out into the street with Will Kane.

Any respect I had for the man as a political leader vanished with his “lets get it on” followed by his “no mas." Maybe he just wasn’t cut out to be a cowboy.

This has nothing to do with the relative merits of Gordon’s and the Freedom Caucus’ views on global warming. This has everything to do with a governor, who is supposed to articulate the policy of his state, not standing up on his hind legs and defending that policy in front of God and all the people of Wyoming.

This is Mark Gordon not having the courage to walk out into the street for the face-off.

This is Mark Gordon shying away from the role of Will Kane, and making of himself Johnny Tyler, in “Tombstone." You remember that scene. Wyatt Earp confronts Johnny Tyler about cheating at cards. Earp first tries every whichway to try to get Tyler to answer his challenge, finally bitch-slapping him.

Tyler demurs and Wyatt says, “Are you gonna do something, or just stand there and bleed?”

Mark Gordon seems to be content to just stand there and bleed.

Wyoming needs a Will Kane today, more than ever. Someone with enough spine to stand in the dust of the street and say, “Not in my town.” If Gordon is willing to abandon that street, I’m sure the Freedom Caucus is more than willing to ride in and take it over. 

The kind of leadership that Wyoming needs right now is the kind that won’t back down. The kind that stands between the rustlers and horse thieves and the people of the town. That’s what elections are for – to find that sort of leadership and courage.

I don’t give a rat’s ass what office Gordon runs for next, but there sure as hell won’t be one of his campaign signs in my yard. I’ll step out into the street myself and put a screechin’ halt to that nonsense.

Rod Miller can be reached at:

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Rod Miller

Political Columnist