By Kate Stone
From No Stone Unturned, Friday, November 16. Reprinted without permission.
It was only a few lines in the Great Falls (Montana) Tribune, but they drew my eye as if by second sight. It was an account of a brawl that began when a dusty stranger staggered into the bar of John Henry’s Restaurant in Choteau, gasped out a request for a double Jack Daniels, and added, "I’ve just seen my own face. Holy shit." When other patrons asked if he was nuts, he replied, "I’m a Vice Presidential candidate!" Things reportedly went downhill from there.
It didn’t take me long to figure out who the stranger was. Finding his cell number still programmed into my BlackBerry, I speed-dialled it without waiting to finish my decaf latte. Campaign Blat answered almost at once. He told me he was sitting in the Great Falls Library with his face buried in a magazine. He was terrified "they" would find him, and he begged me to loan him money so he could get away. I agreed to book him a plane ticket if he’d tell me what had happened, and this is his story:
He and RALPH and the rest of the campaign entourage had been hiding at a ranch in the foothills between Choteau and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area (he refused to disclose the exact location, saying "You'd never get there alive.") The previous afternoon, as RALPH was checking the CCTV camera in the bathroom, a red, white and blue GMC Sierra roared straight across country and up to the ranch gates, its driver singing at the top of his voice, "You know that I was born a ramblin’ maaaaaan." Of course the truck activated the movement sensors around the compound, triggering the security device fondly known as "The Terminator’. But when the explosion and clouds of flame had subsided, the truck emerged, completely undamaged, gunned through the gate and came to a screeching stop in front of the ranch-house door.
"Then I stepped out," said Campaign Blat in awe. "At least that’s what I thought at first. This guy who looked exactly like me, except for the beard and bare feet, got out of the car and sang out, ‘Hello Ralpheee. You were looking for me?’ It took me a while to realize I was looking at the legendary California Blat."
RALPH turned the seven Rottweilers loose, but California Blat simply raised his hands and they stopped dead and slunk away with their tails between their legs. Then the seven militiamen RALPH had hired to guard the Rottweilers let loose a barrage of machine-gun fire. California Blat simply stood calmly with his hands in the air and, in Campaign Blat’s words, "the bullets went right through him and he didn’t even move. He just smiled and said, ‘you’ll have to do a little better than that.'"
Then, according to Campaign Blat, "all hell broke loose. The militiamen were blasting away with their Uzis and throwing hand grenades, while RALPH was inside bounding from window to window screaming, "BASTARD!!! RUN OUT ON ME AND STEAL MY MOMENT-MEN, WOULD YOU?!! AMERICA IS ON TO YOU, YOU TREE-HUGGING, BIN-LADEN-KISSING ASSWIPE!!!! YOU’LL NEVER LEAVE THIS PLACE ALIVE TO CARRY TALES TO YOUR SKANKY DOUGHNUT-BUMPING MASTER!!!" And more to that effect. Then he grabbed a semi-automatic and started exercising his Second Amendment rights without looking where he was shooting. Bullets were smashing into the windows and bouncing off the walls and I was afraid for my life. I got out of there so fast - with all the ruckus, no one even saw me leave. I ran all the way to Choteau. Can you please help me get out of here?"
I booked a plane ticket for him to Minneapolis. I want to get more out of him. Why is RALPH hiding in the wilderness instead of running his campaign? What does he think of the Konservo incident? And what is California Blat’s purpose in forcing a showdown with RALPH?
As soon as I find out answers, you’ll be the first to know, dear readers.