Time was the libertarian-leaning voters of the mountain west saw government regulators as the enemy and corporations as friends. But, thanks to the Bush administration's all-out effort to get government on the side of business, things are changing.

As the Post described last June, Bush (Cheney, actually) has approached land-use issues as an advocate for industry--pushing extremely hard to hand federal lands to extractive industries, snowmobilers, agribusiness, and the like.

In swing states like Colorado and New Mexico, David Sirota writes, this effort has moved the rugged, get-the-hell-off-my-land crowd towards Democrats. After eight years of accelerated drilling permits and waived environmental impact statements, it turns out they don't like anybody disrupting their lifestyle--not even the government in collusion with the oil industry.

This is a tragedy for Bush, who thought he was doing so much on their behalf (why don't Westerners express more gratitude, darnit?), and--considering how key '08 Senate races are shaping up around environment and energy issues--it might be a tragedy for McCain as well.

--Barron YoungSmith