A surprise meeting

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It was an accidental get together… certainly not planned, but it turned out all right. Regular readers will recall my column for Jan. 10, just a few weeks back, was a serious criticism of Montana’s newest Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives, Greg Gianforte.

The column went into deep, and somewhat emotional, detail supporting my opinion against his co-sponsoring a bill to allow bicycles and other questionable uses of established wilderness areas, including my beloved Bob Marshall. I ended the piece giving the Congressman some fatherly advice about his future political plans. I considered that to be a reasonable thing seeing as how I have kids near his middle-age bracket.

It has been only natural for me to wonder how a successful and influential man like Gianforte might feel about my opinion and advice, if he ever saw or heard about it.

I had met the Congressman a time or two, but we certainly were not on a first name basis.

Ker-pow! I came out of the KGEZ broadcast studio last Thursday morning after my daily 7:40 a.m. “News and Comment” program. There, by my desk, stood Greg Gianforte, his wife Susan, and his Montana Field Representative, Bret Simons. It was a surprise shock to me, and I do not recall in detail what happened immediately, but Congressman Gianforte in some way acknowledged our having met before. I could help wondering again if he knew about my column.

To put myself on firm footing for whatever direction our following conversation might take, I looked him in the eye and firmly stated to him and his party, “I am an UNELECTED TROUBLE MAKER.”

When the laughter had subsided, the Congressman and I discussed the proposed wilderness change bill and I told him about my column. He was very quick to state in clear terms that he had undergone “a change in his opinion” on that issue and that he would vote against the bill, if it ever makes it onto the floor. He said he had heard from many people, not just from Montana, who felt the same way I do.

There is no way of knowing if the Congressman and I will ever meet again. If we do, I am going to call him “Greg.”

G. George Ostrom is an award-winning columnist from Kalispell.

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