By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
The Washington Times article was therefore a clear signal from the young colonels of the Gingrich Revolution that they regard him as a sellout, and he risks being toppled and replaced by the burly Dick Armey.
By Independence Day, the atmosphere had gotten even more acrid. This was the week of the Wise Use movement's "Fly In for Freedom," when ranchers, loggers, and developers make their annual lobbying pilgrimage to D.C. Babylon. Some Republican lawmakers were even accusing Newt of being seduced by Hollywood celebrities. California Republican Duke Cunningham--the man who announced on the floor of the House that environmentalism was part of the "homosexual and communist agenda"--told a group of Wise Use leaders that Newt had promised actor Pierce ("007") Brosnan that he would personally keep the dolphin death bill from being voted on in the House.
All this prompted a furious Myron Edell, lobbyist of the right-wing Frontiers of Freedom Institute, an outfit set up by former Wyoming Senator Malcolm Wallop, to bellow: "I think Republicans are starting to realize that the chief obstacle to getting any real environmental reform is their speaker. The freshmen Republicans are very loyal to him, but his green proclivities are damaging to their reelection chances." Edell's organization has recently published two "white papers" excoriating Newt's environmental record.
Meanwhile, Chuck Cushman, the Mussolini of the Wise Use crowd, says that Gingrich has given 20 liberal Republican congressmen from the East Coast veto power over all environmental legislation. Cushman was referring to Newt's environmental task force, a group of Republican congressmen working to shape a new platform on green issues. "What Gingrich has done to satisfy this rump group is to take power from traditional communities and neutralize the will of the rest of the party. If he keeps it up he'll be running for minority leader."
So who really wins from these dances of ideological opportunism? Across the West, the corporate predators are cutting the Republican ultras adrift. The timber companies and agribusiness giants of eastern Oregon have prodded a former Republican, Greg Walden, to launch a third party challenge against incumbent Wes Cooley, the Wise Use movement's most vocal champion in the House. Last year, Cooley gained some national notoriety when he suggested that perhaps Forest Service chief Jack Ward Thomas should be jailed for not logging enough timber off the national forests.
Cooley has been under fire recently for allegations that (like his political idol, Ronald Reagan) he lied about his military service, claiming he was part of a special operations assassination squad in Korea, when in fact he never left California. Cooley is convinced that Gingrich is behind both his bad press and the derailing of his plans to dismantle the Endangered Species Act. "Let's cut the bullshit," Cooley exclaimed during a July meeting of Wise Use leaders and Republican members of congress from the Western states. "The main problem here is Gingrich. He's a damn limousine liberal."
In Idaho, Helen Chenoweth, the Boadicia of the backwoods, is being spurned by the big corporations in her own state--Boise/Cascade, Potlatch, FMC Gold, and Hewlett-Packard, the owners of the largest (and most abused) grazing concession in Idaho. They regard Chenoweth as an embarrassment and are ready to sit down with the corporate green groups and cut a deal.
The recently unveiled plan to reintroduce grizzlies into central Idaho is a model for what is now happening nationwide. Under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service is required to restore bears to the Idaho wilderness and ensure that their habitat is protected from destructive logging and mining. Chenoweth loudly denounced the proposal, saying "the only thing bears are good for is killing wolves." But the plan was all worked out behind Chenoweth's back, in secret meetings between the timber and mining companies, the Clinton administration, and two renegade green groups, Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation.
Under this arrangement, grizzly bears will be captured in Canada and transplanted in the wildlands of Idaho's Salmon River country. But there's a catch. The bears will have no legal protection. Instead, the timber and mining companies will be given exemptions from the Endangered Species Act allowing the bears' habitat to be logged off or mined relentlessly. Moreover, if a rancher spots a bear on his grazing allotment, he is permitted to shoot the bear at will.
Environmental groups, such as the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, that have correctly denounced this proposal as a sellout of the bear have been ridiculed as radicals by their own supposed colleagues at the National Wildlife Federation. Chenoweth and the other Republican ultras have been left in the dust. Clinton, like that president in the movie, charts his praises for the win-win eco-solution, while the corporations continue their uninhibited plunder of the earth.