Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg to Students: ‘I’m Just Like You’
By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
October 4, 2012
Note: This column originally appeared as part of the Exponent’s Sugarbeet page, a satirical biweekly feature that attempts to stimulate discussion of critical community issues.
Last Friday, Sept. 28, Montana Rep. Dennis Rehberg — or “Denny,” as he is reportedly known while relaxing among lobbyists — visited the Montana State University campus on an impromptu campaign stop. After unsuccessfully attempting to pal around on the Mall with college students who desperately avoided eye contact, Rehberg spoke to a small crowd of supporters in the Student Union Building.
His speech’s overarching message was tailored to the occasion. Rehberg emphasized his concern for students, repeatedly saying, “I’m just like you!” before telling stories about his “wild nights” in an attempt to connect with members of the younger generation.
“Just like any college student, I have a solid record of making questionable life decisions involving alcohol,” Rehberg claimed. “Why, when I was in Kazakhstan with [former] Sen. Burns, I once got drunk, fell off a horse, and proceeded to call my local hosts ‘cone heads’ while making alien noises!”
“Just like any college student, I have a solid record of making questionable life-decisions involving alcohol.” — Rep. Denny Rehberg
After referring to Sen. Jon Tester, whom Rehberg is challenging this November for one of Montana’s U.S. Senate seats, as a “nancy boy,” Rehberg launched into an extended diatribe about Montana’s need for a “tough” leader. As evidence of his toughness, he cited a bar-room brawl in Missoula in 2006. Rehberg, with a deranged glow in his eyes, said that a “pinko, commie Obama-clone” like Tester would never have whooped the other guys’ asses like he and his staff did.
“I also understand what it’s like to have to live on a budget,” explained Rehberg, who has an estimated worth of $31 million and owns several subdivisions in Billings. “When I go out for drinks in D.C., I don’t waste lobbyist money on expensive bars. Instead, I frequent dive bars like the Tune Inn,” which he claimed was similar to Bozeman’s Haufbrau.
After a long night of drinking, Rehberg occasionally “pinches pennies” by passing out drunk on a cot in the basement of the Tune Inn, congressional interns report.
Rehberg avoided mentioning the infamous 2009 boat crash on Flathead Lake. Rehberg was one of several passengers in the boat when then-state Sen. Greg Barkus crashed a boat head-on into Flathead Lake’s rocky shoreline. Barkus had a blood-alcohol content of 0.16, and Rehberg had a BAC of 0.05 five hours after the crash.
A senior strategist for the Montana Republican Party, who declined to be named, explained that Rehberg likely avoided that topic “because even college kids aren’t that dumb.”
As Rehberg’s head began to dip periodically, he concluded by explaining that he even understands how hard it is to stay awake in class because of all the work a student had to complete the night before — “be it homework, wage-earning or binge drinking.”
“After all, I’ve fallen asleep a time or two during a debate. It’s hard when you’re hungover.” Just last night, Rehberg reported getting “wasted off his ass” at Bar IX and the Pour House.
The Tester campaign responded by contrasting Tester, whom they framed as a “third-generation dry-land farmer,” with “Dennis the mansion-rancher Rehberg.” Campaign manager Al Cooper said, “Primarily, Tester’s policies aren’t bat-shit crazy teabagger stuff like Rehberg’s, but Tester can also hold his liquor, plain and simple.”
Author’s Note: Every incident in this article actually occurred, although some have been exaggerated for effect.