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The Folks Don’t Like His Billing

--He’s a hit in Washington, but not everyone is charmed with a Montana senator’s aw-shucks, down-home manners, especially the folks back home, who complain that Conrad Burns is making them look like hicks. “Thanks, Conrad, thanks for telling the world what hicks we are in this state,” complained a stinging editorial in Montana’s largest newspaper, the Billings Gazette. “Burns is making us look like bumpkins,” chimed in the editor of the Bozeman Chronicle. But what Montanans find irritating are the very things that have made the freshman Republican senator a hot ticket, prompting feature stories on two national TV news shows, press club speaking engagements and numerous newspaper profiles. Washington seems to be delighted when the 54-year-old Burns picks his teeth with a pocketknife during interviews, bites off a chaw of tobacco in his office or jokes that “there are awful good folks up there (in Montana)--some of them can read and write.” But the hayseed style irritates business and political leaders in the state, which is striving to build high-tech industry. “Sen. Burns is a capable man,” wrote Allison Whitmer in a letter to the Billings paper. “But (he) . . . must drop the ‘good-old-boy’ act and emphasize our intelligence as a people and a state. Otherwise, he will further the warped viewpoint that others hold of us.”

--The government has put the pedal to the metal to peddle its savings bonds, agreeing to pay $3,500 for advertising on a white Chevrolet Beretta expected to make its debut next month at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Piloting the car around the fast track will be Aloysius (Cappy) Coleman Jr., owner of Capgar Racing Inc. of Jersey City, N.J., who has vowed “to become the best salesman for U.S. savings bonds that they have. It’s quite a unique opportunity. I mean, who hears about bonds anymore?” The Treasury Department has not approved the car’s exterior graphics, but they might include an eagle and a picture of a U.S. savings bond, Coleman said. Additionally, the government has stipulated that it won’t share the car with advertisers of alcoholic beverages or foreign companies. The uniforms, naturally, will be white with red and blue accents.


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