Jonathan Thompson
Writers on the Range

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January 15, 2013
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WOTR: Heard around the West

Should you bump into Interior Secretary Ken Salazar anytime soon, you might ask him about his future plans, his family's well-being, or even his hat. (How does he decide whether to wear black or white?) But whatever you do, don't mention wild horses. Colorado Springs Gazette reporter Dave Philipps found this out when he brought up BLM wild horse policy at an election day rally. After the informal interview, Salazar turned to Philipps and accused him of setting him up: "You do that to me again, and I'll punch you out, OK?" A wild horse advocacy group immediately sent out an alert, and the news went viral, to many a conservative blogger's glee. Salazar apologized to Philipps by phone and offered him a formal interview, which is all Philipps wanted in the first place. For the record, Salazar - who is typically mild-mannered to a fault - was wearing his white hat on the day he made the threat.

If you want to flush the crazies out of the woodwork, just hold an election. A woman in Gilbert, Ariz., ran over her husband with a car, leaving him in critical condition, because she believed his failure to vote caused Romney's loss. In a case of 2008 dejà vu, gun sales again went bonkers as soon as Obama was re-elected, "with weapons retailers reporting AK-47s flying off shelves 'like hotcakes,'" reports The Telegraph. And citizens of all 50 states filed petitions to secede from the Union.

Given all this, can it be a coincidence about the Ding-Dongs? The other Ding-Dongs, that is - the ones made by Hostess, which announced it would shut down just days after the election. Such news would be tragic at any time, but it caused extra anxiety in Colorado and Washington, where voters had just chosen to legalize marijuana. Foreseeing an epidemic of the munchies, entrepreneurs hungrily stockpiled Twinkies, planning to sell them at a steep profit later, perhaps on eBay. But now it appears that another company - Pabst Brewing, for example - will likely buy Hostess, including the Twinkies brand, and continue to make the creme-filled cakes.

Perhaps you saw the "Portlandia" episode where an animal-loving couple, upset about a dog tied up outside a chi-chi restaurant, searches for its owner, tries to feed it upscale goodies like mussels, then finally releases the dog, much to the owners' dismay. That's sort of what happened in Salt Lake City not long ago. Sort of. The Deseret News reports that Steve Wescott, from Washington, was walking cross-country with his goat, LeeRoy Brown, when he stopped at a bar in Salt Lake City to get dinner. He tied LeeRoy up outside because, presumably, goats aren't served at that establishment. When a concerned citizen called animal control officers, they hauled LeeRoy away. Wescott tried to avert the animal's arrest, but ultimately had to pay $50 to bail out his buddy. Maybe the officers had a premonition about the dangers of goats: Just a month later in Cache County, Utah, a goat, aptly named Voldemort, attacked a paperboy, head-butting him off his bike and chasing him up a tree, where he stayed for so long his parents reported him missing. According to various reports, Voldemort is a fainting goat - a breed whose muscles freeze up for 10 seconds when it panics - but that peculiar trait didn't prevent him from waging his one-goat campaign against invading paperboys.

It's hard not to say, "I told you so." When the state of Colorado deemed it legal to carry a concealed weapon on a college campus, University of Colorado officials had doubts about the idea. CU students - usually under the influence of alcohol or other substances - have been known to do some wild things, including: beating a raccoon to death with a machete, baseball bat and hockey stick; rioting for no apparent reason; and attacking fellow fraternity members from a motor scooter with bear spray. (That backfired; the spray blew back at them and caused them to crash.) Adding guns seems unnecessary, especially given the students' demonstrated ingenuity in finding other objects to gratify violent urges. When the courts overturned CU's gun ban, however, it had to let profs and students carry firearms, even in class. That, um, also backfired in November, when a college staffer accidentally shot a colleague while showing off her small, permitted .22 Magnum. The injury was minor, and the victim is reportedly fine. But the incident did reignite the debate over allowing concealed weapons on campus.

Jonathan Thompson is a senior editor at High Country News. Send tips of Western weirdness to Betsy Marston at Betsym@hcn.org.


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The Summit Daily Updated Jan 15, 2013 10:17PM Published Jan 15, 2013 09:59PM Copyright 2013 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.