We thought Steve Daines was smarter than this — or, at least, less craven than this.
Saturday, he announced that he was one of 11 United States Senators who will vote to reject presidential electors from some states, proposing an election commission to audit what is probably already the most-audited election in U.S. history.
The 11 senators' joint statement says the 2020 election featured "unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities."
The key words are "allegations of." Not "evidence of."
The President and a few of his allies repeating endlessly his contentions of fraud with no evidence to back it up does not itself constitute evidence of anything. Now, the senators involved are using the "allegations" in place of evidence.
Daines' announcement of this Saturday was headlined, "Daines Calls for Election Commission to Restore Trust Following Irregularities in 2020 Presidential Election."
There is no evidence of any election-altering irregularities.
Even Attorney General William Barr, as strong an ally of the President as can be found, said so.
The senators' joint statement laments that "39 percent of Americans believe 'the election was rigged.'"
Gee, Sen. Daines, perhaps that's because shortly after the election, irresponsible hacks put out statements claiming "The Dems are Stealing the Election."
If that sounds familiar, Senator, it's because you put out that statement. On Thursday, Nov. 5. With no evidence to back it up.
We believe this entire episode to be one of the saddest in our country's political history. How unfortunate that you decided to play a leading role — in support of the insupportable.
The "continued reports of irregularities" you cite in your statement Saturday are only "reports" and are only "continued" because the President and many of his supporters refuse to accept the facts as they are.
We agree with you about much; we praised you recently for your exemplary work in helping establish what became Operation Warp Speed. But this is so beyond the pale that it cannot be normalized or tacitly accepted by ignoring it.
This action, Senator, is political garbage disguised as statesmanship. It is beneath your office and should be beneath you.
The Billings Gazette Editorial Board consists of President and Publisher Dave Worstell, Regional Editor David McCumber and Chief Photographer Larry Mayer.