MISSOULA — You better think long and hard before you endorse Iowa Bill Speltz as your sports editor.

He'll only destroy Montana with his cob-head values and corn pone country humor. He's an outsider, just like Maryland Matt and California Kathleen.

What we really need to do is find a way to get Speltz out of here. Maybe snap a photo of him when he has the flu or right after he eats a lemon and makes a pucker face. Then we'll run it on TV with some slanderous mumbo-jumbo that's bound to leave him out in the cold when it comes to Montana's masses.  

Seems silly, huh? It's right off the barnyard floor and we've been watching and listening to it for months leading up to Election Day Tuesday. 

It's interesting how the whole politics-sports globe flipped upside down. Back when I was a naïve high-schooler, I enjoyed listening to athletes like Muhammed Ali and John McEnroe pontificate. Politicians like Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter seemed fairly tame in comparison, like two guys you'd meet at a checkers tournament.

Now the politicians are the Muhammed Alis and John McEnroes. Heck, maybe that's being too nice. They're an updated version of the all-star wrestlers we watched in the 1970s like Baron "The Clawmaster" von Raschke and Ivan "The Russian Bear" Koloff. Excitable guys that point their finger in the camera.

Perhaps politicians could learn a thing from listening to Montana and Montana State coaches and athletes on the eve of Cat-Griz confrontations. There's an air of class that, while mundane at times, leaves the casual observer feeling pretty good about this state.

The closest thing to Brawl of the Wild pregame trash talk I've even heard is so subtle it's easy to miss. Maybe Robin Selvig dodging the words Montana State, instead opting for Bozeman. Or someone from the Bobcats referring to Montana as "that school to the west."

Some of the political attacks this fall have confused me. Why is it such a terrible thing if someone who wasn't born in Montana runs for office in the Treasure State? I mean really, almost all of us are outsiders — some moving to this beautiful place recently and others the descendants of outsiders who came 75 years ago looking for opportunity.

My son was born in a small Iowa town named Cherokee. He moved here with his family only 14 years ago, but I'd challenge you to find anyone more passionate about the Montana way of life — from its mountains and people to its fishing, hunting and job opportunity.

If he decided to run for office, how exactly would his birth place make him different than the fellow that's lived here his whole life? Does remembering the days when Montana's population was under 700,000 really help that much now that it's up over a million?

Another thing I don't quite understand is why it's considered bad to be a career politician. I suppose it could be if you were a worthless lump. But wasn't Abraham Lincoln a career politician? Is it bad if I call myself a career journalist?

The great news is the political attacks are almost over. The advertisements insulting our intelligence will mostly go away, at least for a while. No more paper thingies hanging on the front door.

Whether your favorites win or lose Tuesday, try to remember the immortal words of those philosophical rockers from the 1970s, the band Styx. They'll light the way in your times of trouble:

"So if you think your life is complete confusion

Because you never win the game

Just remember that it's a grand illusion

And deep inside we're all the same."

Bill Speltz is Missoulian Sports Editor and has served as Sunday columnist the past 14 years. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at bill.speltz@missoulian.com.

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