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Here's Jon Testerfying to his beliefs.


Yr Wonkette would like to thank Donald Trump for helping us choose the focus of this week's Senate Sunday: Senator Jon Tester, Democrat from Montana, who Donald Trump seems to think singlehandedly made up negative information about failed Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson, because Donald Trump is exactly that stupid. Jackson withdrew his nomination as VA secretary last week after reports surfaced that he was often drunk on overseas trips, that he had casually prescribed meds -- including one claim that he'd prescribed them for himself -- and that he was responsible for a toxic work environment in the White House Medical Unit. Saturday, Trump took to the Twitter machine to call on Tester to resign for reporting allegations made by 23 people against Jackson -- most of them current and former members of the military.

Did Trump mention the people who really made the allegations? Of course not -- why would he, especially in an election year? They may be veterans and active-duty military, but if they spoke against Jackson, they're not patriots.

If you want to get all technical about it, of course, Tester was certainly not the only member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs to have had the allegations reported to him; the Republican chair of the committee, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, signed a joint statement with Tester calling for the claims to be investigated. And while Isakson didn't comment on Trump's call for Tester to resign Saturday, a spokesperson for his office called attention to Isakson's statement about the matter Thursday:

I think everyone has an obligation if they make a charge to release it. And everyone who is charged has a right to have a day in court to be heard.

The spokesperson also told CNN's Jeff Zeleny Saturday morning,

Senator Isakson has a great relationship with Senator Tester. He doesn’t have a problem with how things were handled. I don’t know for sure but highly doubt he’s seen the president’s tweets this morning.

Oddly, Donald Trump is not calling for Johnny Isakson's resignation. It would be terribly cynical to suggest this is mostly about Trump trying to gin up an issue for November, however, because it's also yet another example of Trump's deep need to treat every political setback as an intentional personal insult. The man lives for grievances.

Trump ramped up the stupid last night at his very special "What White House Correspondents Dinner?" rally in Michigan, making the very credible threat,

Tester started throwing out things that he’s heard [...] Well, I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said them, he’d never be elected again.”

You want irrefutable proof Donald Trump has no horrifying secret dirt on Jon Tester? If he had anything of the sort, he'd be saying it at every opportunity, because Donald Trump is physically incapable of holding back any derogatory rumor he's ever heard, including the ones he knows are false. The secret, we're sure, is that Jon Tester is actually Ted Cruz's ugly wife.

If somebody asks Trump what that supposed dirt is, maybe he'll bring up this 2012 Breitbart hit piece that has seen new life on Twitter the last few days; it "asks," based on some very creative interpretation of a speech by then-Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, whether Tester was elected "through dirty tricks." The piece is, of course, the usual voter fraud is everywhere!!! bullshit.

For his part, Tester didn't directly address Trump's tweets Saturday, but did release a statement pointing out that Trump has signed eight bills sponsored by Tester, aimed at improving accountability and responsiveness at the VA, and saying he's not walking away from the job anytime soon:

It’s my duty to make sure Montana veterans get what they need and have earned, and I’ll never stop fighting for them as their senator.

Not surprisingly, rightwing Twitter immediately demanded to know how Tester can be for veterans if he didn't unquestioningly support Trump's unqualified VA nominee, listening to a bunch of veterans and current military members instead.

There's no doubt Trump can manage to nurse this grudge until November, though Crom only knows who he may be even angrier at by then. Montana is a weird state politically: deep red overall, and the state voted for Trump by a 20-point margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016, but with a still-strong progressive tendency when it comes to clean elections and labor -- it's one of the rare mountain west states that doesn't have a "right to work" (with no rights at work) law. (It doesn't even have at-will employment!!!) Redness aside, Montana isn't entirely averse to electing the occasional Democrat like Tester or Gov. Steve Bullock, who succeeded Schweitzer, another Democrat. And of course it's the chosen mountain home of Yr Editrix and of Yr future overlord Donna Rose.

As far as unseating Tester this fall, none of the four Republicans running in the June 5 primary are especially impressive. Trump did Tester a big electoral favor by plucking Ryan Zinke out of the House and making him secretary of the Interior, albeit to the detriment of the nation's public lands. (And also to the detriment of Zinke himself, who is now reviled throughout the state. Did we mention that the "sportsmen" there actually protect public lands??? Like we told you: weird "red" state.) Of the four dipwads running against Tester, the apparent frontrunner is Matt Rosendale, the state auditor, who keeps getting listed in newspaper articles as the likely nominee, so we guess that makes him the likely nominee.

At a primary debate Thursday, the four had a great big fight over who was truly the most loyal to Trump and who was a REAL Montana conservative: Two of the candidates, Rosendale and businessman (also Air Force vet, so automatically most patriotic) Troy Downing, were born in other states, which -- San Diegan and Montana's new House rep. Greg Gianforte notwithstanding -- is usually actually an automatic DQ. Both have also gotten tangled up in dumb paperwork scandals involving their residency.

The other two Republicans in the race are Montana natives: Albert Olszewski, a businessman, member of the state legislature, and ALSO Air Force veteran, and former state judge Russell Fagg, who is apparently running solely for the purpose of giving Montana middle-school boys a chance to pretend they're interested in politics. "What, it's the guy's name! Are you saying I can't support a candidate?"

Yr Editrix noted this morning that the entire lineup -- Rosendale, Downing, Olszewski, and Fagg -- sounds like a bunch of Roald Dahl villains, and confirmed Rosendale is probably the frontrunner, although "they're all doofy."

Rosendale released his first ad of the campaign this week, making the very important observation that he and John Tester both have flat-top haircuts, but his is on top of a real conservative Republican and that's why his haircut belongs in the Senate:

Jon Tester isn't especially impressed by Rosendale's billing 2018 as a "battle of the flat-tops"; back in March, when Rosendale started rolling out the phrase, Tester dismissed it, saying, "He can say that all he want, but I'm still more plumb and level."

Speaking of campaign ads, we'd be remiss to leave out this gem from Downing's campaign, which suggests that, as an Air Force vet, Downing is a real patriot, while Tester is just a schlubby farmer and former elementary music teacher who will be bowled over by the jet pilot and his cool jet fighter. Both politicians are played here by stand-ins, as is the jet: The live footage shows a very patriotic Czech-built trainer from the Soviet era, and the plane that knocks "Tester" off his tractor is a computer-generated F-16... which, flying at the angle in the ad, must surely have crashed immediately after, so Jon Tester is running against a ghost!

As everyone knows, veterans love America more than anyone else is even capable of loving America -- hey! An excuse to tell you to go read this brilliant NYT op-ed by a retired Marine who has no use for such "patriotic correctness"! -- so you need to vote for the Trump supporter, not the trumpeter. See what they did there? Tester's campaign sure did -- they noted that the Tester stand-in has five fingers on his left hand, while the real Jon Tester lost three fingers in a childhood saw accident in the butcher shop on his family's farm. Jon Tester's left hand has been a surprisingly consistent problem for Rs, who in 2012 photoshopped Tester into a full-handed embrace of Barack Obama:

Jeez, talk about digital manipulation!

Anyway, now that Donald Trump has called for Tester's head, those early attempts to find a hook on which to hang a campaign slogan are probably gone for good, and with big rightwing money expected to pour into the state between now and November, Montanans will probably get the impression that "Dr. Ronny Jackson" is actually one of the candidates for US Senate. He certainly has better name recognition than any of the dopes actually trying for the R nomination, although of course Jackson would be every bit as unqualified for the Senate as he was to head the VA.

Jon Tester, we should note, actually saw his approval rating among Montana voters improve by 16 points in the first quarter of 2018, to 56 percent, moving him from the 10 least popular senators to the ten most popular. And talk about insulting -- Tester's numbers are well above Trump's Montana approval rating. We don't doubt that may have worked into Trump's decision to go after Tester so hard, although frankly, personal pettiness may well have been enough.

Just give Jon Tester some money, will you? We need to keep every Democratic incumbent if we hope to retake the Senate, and Tester is now the target of Trump's Internet Flying Monkey Brigade.

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Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. Please click here to help us profile every single Senate race in 2018

[NYT / Bloomberg / Montana Public Radio / Missoulian / Bozeman Daily Chronicle / Helena Independent Record / Great Falls Tribune / Morning Consult / Image via John Tester's Senate website / Jon Tester for Senate]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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