Talk about a bad penny…
Max Lenington, the former treasurer, assessor and superintendent of schools for Yellowstone County, ended his long career of public service in disgrace a few years ago, after it became publicly known that he harbored racist, homophobic and all-around reprehensible beliefs.
When I interviewed him in the midst of the firestorm about his comments, he still seemed rather proud of his notoriety, saying, among other things, “I enjoy the infuriation of the liberal left-wing media like you. I could say ‘fuck’ and I wouldn’t get as much news as when I said ‘Obama.’”
Since he left office, he has continued to trumpet his extreme, offensive views. Just this morning, in a letter to the editor of the Billings Gazette, he was at it again. In his letter, he “explained” why the Democratic Party did so poorly in the last election.
He wrote: “First, we had corrupt Hillary Clinton, then we had crazy Bernie Sanders; then locally, we had the lesbian school teacher from Browning, Denise Juneau, and then just recently we had bankrupt Rob Quist.”
Sounds a bit like an unhinged tweet from another controversialist, doesn’t it? But obviously the most offensive thing here is Lenington’s description of Denise Juneau, the former state superintendent of schools who lost her bid for the U.S. House to incumbent Ryan Zinke, later appointed to head the Interior Department.
The other three candidates are described with one-word pejoratives—corrupt, crazy and bankrupt—but the only terrible thing Lenington could find to say about Juneau is that she is a lesbian. Of course, he also mentions that she’s from Browning, which might be a slur in his circle. For clarification, he added this:
“The Democrats’ election problems are a dysfunctional and degenerate candidate pool with absolutely no new ideas or direction.”
In that same interview with Lenington, I asked him about a rumor I’d heard—that he was a left-wing plant whose outbursts were actually designed to discredit the Republican Party and conservatives in general. He laughed … and then went on to say positive things about white supremacists.
The saddest thing is, comments that caused a firestorm a few years ago are today almost mild. It makes me wonder how we’re ever going to get out of this mess we’re in.