Sportsmen for a Crappy Environment

Sportsmen for a crappy environment


After the Bush re-election, liberals and moderates were tormented by one enormous question: Why do so many middle and lower income Americans support a president whose policies run directly counter to their economic interests? It is a fascinating and depressing issue, expertly parsed in Thomas Frank's study of his home state's headlong rush to red state ruin, What's the Matter with Kansas? I won't bother summarizing here. Just buy the book, read it, and abandon all hope.


But for environmentalists, there is a similar question also worth pondering: How to explain those ubiquitous "Sportsmen for Bush" bumper stickers. Do America's sportsmen--hunters and anglers--really think John Kerry wanted to sneak into their homes at night and steal their .20 gauge shotguns? Did they think he'd fallen prey to PETA, and harbored secret plans to ban sport fishing? Maybe so. There are quite a lot of talk radio fans in this country.


Then again, there's an even more worrisome explanation. Maybe the hook-and-bullet crowd is actually convinced that the Bush administration shares its interest in preserving what's left of our natural world. After all, Dick Cheney loves to hunt birds and W sure seems to enjoy tending to his ranch in Crawford.


It would be much easier to accept this view if it weren't for a few ugly facts. Consider, for instance, the Bush administration's proposed '06 budget. According to the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, the administration is advocating a $3.3 billion reduction in environmental spending. How will that effect Minnesota? According to the Center, under the proposed budget, Minnesota stands to lose as much as $32 million in promised funding for programs aimed at improving water quality and protecting land habitat--in other words, programs that any committed "sportsman" should support. For specific details on what's at stake, go here.

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