The first part of this fictional saga, “A Meeting at Soviet Sage Grouse Condominiums,” was printed in this paper on July 28. The point of the improbable name is to humorously emphasize that we have a lot more socialism in our society than many people are comfortable admitting. Socialism is practically everywhere you look. Our roads, schools, the public lands and social security are results of “collective effort and ownership,” and are therefore examples of socialism.

This discomfort with socialism seems to go back to the Russian Revolution, and the resulting and sinister rise of Joseph Stalin, followed by the Cold War and the crazy accusations of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. It is neither fair nor rational to judge socialism in this way. Some of our closest allies, like Britain, Australia, France and Canada, regularly use the word socialism to describe themselves.

The quotes here, from Rep. Liz Cheney, are fake, but they are included to make a point. The other characters are fictional.


“I know all about gas drilling on public lands. I’ve been a Wyoming resident for a long time,” said Cheney, on a conference call from her home in Arlington, Virginia. “It would be un-American for me to stop Drill Baby Drill from extracting natural gas. The gas is their rightfully owned property, so they can extract it, even if it’s unpleasant for environmental extremists at Soviet Sage Grouse Condominiums (SSG). God put resources there for the use of man. So, I’m sorry about the years of luminosity pollution, noise and smells that you’ll get, but sometimes you have to take one for the team.”

“Representative Cheney, aren’t you being a little insensitive and unreasonable? I mean, some limits ought to be put on drilling outfits when questions of quality of life come up for those of us who live here,” said Mellors.

“Look Mellors, we have files on agitators like you. We know you write letters to editors. You’re like the capitalism-hating character from a certain novel. You’ve protested against my father’s successful efforts to bring peace, justice and democracy to places like Iraq, and therefore to the entire Middle East. That part of the world is now stable and prosperous. It’s my duty to remake Wyoming and the West into another Middle East.”

“Well, it looks like we have some disagreements …,” said Jean.

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“One of the five parts of real estate, as conceived of by the great Realtor Henry VIII, is the Right of Quiet Enjoyment,” said Donna. “Though this might at times have something to do with loud noise, it includes all activities that could be done on one property that might unfavorably obtrude on another’s property. We obviously have that case here, and it seems so unnecessary. If there could simply be a setback of say one mile, from residential buildings, it would do so much to pacify public outrage at the outrageous practices of the fossil-fuel industry.”

“Those pot smoking hippies in Colorado tried that. Drilling outfits outspent them thirty-to-one to defeat their unlawful referendum. Drill Baby Drill’s right to extract their property, all that sub-surface gas, is inviolable. To oppose them is un-American. Wyoming has a great future in fossil fuels.”

“I can sell SSG a taller vinyl fence,” offered Howard.

“Howard, we have to do something classy. I think we can build a good twenty-foot tall, Harvard-Yard-looking brick wall,” said Mr. Boston. “It would cost a lot, but we might be able to sue Drill Baby Drill to pay for it.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry I caused all of this contention among my neighbors, and inevitably involving hateful Liz Cheney, just because I wanted to view the pretty stars in the night sky,” intoned Ingrid. “I think I’ll move to Canada.”

To which Jason responded, “All you environmental extremists who hate our legitimate president, The King of Israel and Conqueror of Greenland, always threaten to do things that will harm our property values, like leaving. At this rate, Wyoming will become a ghost-state. Over the last four years we’ve lost ten thousand people. You would almost think that our vision is wrong, that we are in denial of reality, and that we are out of sync with parts of the nation that are growing and where stuff is getting better. It’s all starting to make me wonder if we have to take a serious look at everything we’re doing in Wyoming.”

This saga will not be continued in this paper.

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Tom Gagnon lives in Rock Springs.


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