Rod and gun in hand, and backing the Second Amendment right to own firearms, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have won the hearts of America’s sportsmen. Yet the two men have failed to protect outdoor sports on the nation’s public lands. With deep ties to the oil and gas industry, Bush and Cheney have unleashed a national energy plan that has begun to destroy hunting and fishing on millions of federal acres throughout the West, setting back effective wildlife management for decades to come.My only question for the editors is, what took you so long? In the very next paragraph they note that Bush's energy policy began to develop two weeks after he was inaugurated. Surely it didn't take five years of implementation before outdoorsmen could see it was going to be a raw deal. I am getting tired of all these people coming out of the woodwork now to protest things that were just as true in 2004 when their opinions could have influenced the election.
The editorial goes on to give several specific examples showing how the Bush administration's energy policy is destroying good hunting grounds by spooking, exposing, or killing fish and wildlife. Too bad they limited their scope to energy because plenty of other corporate players are vying for rights to federal lands as well. Sportsmen in Montana have become so fed up with the privatization and corporatization of public lands that they starting electing Democrats to stop it.
What outdoorsmen forget is that the people in office are not like them. They may have guns and fishing rods, but they don't have to hunt on federal land -- Cheney shot that guy's face while hunting on a private ranch in Texas. What does Cheney care if Exxon/Mobil takes over a few million acres of BLM land? It's not his loss. The administration is giving it away dirt-cheap, too, sometimes leasing land for energy development for as little as $2 an acre. Ordinary citizens can't even lease a tiny campsite for one night on federal land for $2.
This "sportsman's revolt" hits close to home because butt-headed pro-gun people like Field & Stream readers and my dad helped install the Bush/Cheney regime. Don't misunderstand me here. They aren't butt-heads because they are pro-gun (I don't have a strong opinion in that debate); they are butt-heads because they so believed the NRA's spin that John Kerry or Al Gore would take away their guns that they voted for Bush instead, with no regard for the consequences of his other policies. For that, perhaps they deserve the ironic fate of being able to own guns with no place to use them.