A One-Act Play

Act 1, Scene 1

Tuesday afternoon, January 28, 2014

Stage is dark, we hear the sound of a cell phone ringing, ringtone music: “Take the Money and Run.

Man’s Voice: Hello, this is Jack.

Hi, Jack, Harry Hamm here. Boy it sure is nice to have the Governor’s private cell phone number so I don’t have to go through all the trouble of bothering your girl out front there.

No problem, Harry, it’s important for us team members to stay in touch. What’s up?

Well, a few of the boys are in town, and we thought we might get together for steaks and scotch tonight, and we thought you might enjoy a little getaway before your big Industrial Commission meeting tomorrow. Seven o’clock in the ballroom at the Radisson?

You bet, I’ll be there.

Scene 2

Tuesday evening, January 28, 2014

Ballroom, Bismarck Radisson Hotel

Well, Hi there, Jack, did the limo driver I sent for you have any trouble finding us?

Nope, just fine Harry. Gosh that was nice, I remember when the Governor used to have a limo and a driver, back before that last Governor from Casselton moved in here and scrapped it for his old beat up Suburban. Thanks for the ride.

No problem there, Jack. Say, there’s a few of the boys here you haven’t met, thought you might like to. I know you got stuff in the mail from them, little notes with those big checks they sent, heh, heh, but they thought they’d like to just get a little better acquainted before that big Industrial Commission meeting tomorrow, where that lawyer friend of yours from across the hall is going to bring some silly old policy to you which would really get in the way of how these boys like to do business.

This here’s old Dale Behan from Fort Worth, you might remember he kicked in $27,500 for your campaign a couple years ago, even beating my $20,000 check. Stepped right up there, he did, looking out for you in that tough campaign against that cowboy.

Oh, and look over here, this here’s Don Bottrell from Billings, Diamond B company, big player out there in the oil patch. You remember his $10,000 check, don’t you? And he’s talking to Corbin Robertson, you might remember his $25,000 check. Old Corbin, he’s got Quintana Minerals down there in Houston, big player out in western North Dakota here now. Tell ya what, Jack, looks like these boys have got themselves lined up to greet you, let’s just start down the line here, I’ll let them introduce themselves, where they’re from , and remind you how much their check was for. Those checks got you that big win two years ago, you know.

Lenny Behm, Behm Energy (Me and my two sons kicked in $10,000. Howdy, Governor.)

Chris Anderson International Western Co., Williston $10,000. Good to see you again, Jack.

Dan Borgen US Development Group, Houston, $8,000

Mike Armstrong,. Dickinson, Armstrong Operating (Me and my boy put in $14,000)

Dean Anagost, Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson, (Guys from our company must be up in that $15,000 range by now.)

Michael Forman, I’m a lawyer from Texas who works for a lot of oil companies, $5,000

Thomas Nusz, Oasis Petroleum, Dickinson $7,500

John Earley, Peak Energy Durango, CO,  $4,000

Clarence Cazalot, Marthon Oil, $5,000

Tracy Turner, Armada Pressure Control, Williston, $8,000

John Barry, Las Vegas, $25,000

Mark Johnsrud, Badlands Power Fuels, Watford City, $8,000

Donald Kessel, Murex Petroleum, Humble, TX, $5,000

Loren Kopseng, Rainbow Gas, Bismarck, $6,600

David Roberts, Marathon Oil, Houston, $5,000 (and my PAC kicked in another $5,000)

Chris Anderson, International Western Co., Williston, $17,500

Tony Hauck, Missouri Basin Well Services, $6,620 (and my bosses, Jim and Jody Arthuad, put in another ten grand, besides that $10,000 check to the North Dakota Republican Party)

Bob Mau, Eagle Operating, Kenmare, $26,000

John Schmitz, Gainesville, TX, $15,000

Wow, that was quite a lineup there, Harry, and I’m sure grateful for all that campaign help.

Well, Jack, there’s a few more on the other side of the room—see that line over there? They’d like to shake your hand too. Why don’t you start down that line while I get you another one of those scotches?

Well, hi there, Governor, I’m Michael Moore, just a country lawyer from down there in Fort Worth, Texas, but I know what a pain in the ass us lawyers can be when we go and get ourselves elected Attorney General, and I know you’ve got some important business to look out for us there tomorrow at that Industrial Commission meeting. Oh, by the way, I sent a check your way for $2,500. You can just start down the line here if you want.

Hi, Governor, Mike Ames, Trenton, ND, $1,000

Kent Beers Billings, MT, $1,000

David Bole, Houston, $1,000

Dale Branson Williston, $2,000

Michael Brunstein, Denver $1,500

Eileen Campbell, Marathon Oil, Houston, you met some of my partners over there. I sent $2,500

Robert Clark, Beartrack Energy, $2,500

Elizabeth Claude, Victor Pipeline, Houston, $500

Fred Evans, Stanley, $2,000

Richard Fairservis, Casper, WY, $2,000

Jeff Farstad, Minot, $2,500,

Mike Fitzmaurice, Tri Star Minerals, Minot, $2,000

James Huffman, Williston, $1,000

Ray Kuntz, Helena, MT, $1,000

Michael Lou, Oasis Petroleum, Houston, $1,000

Lee McIntire, Denver, $1,000

Neil McMurry, Casper, WY, $1,000

Stephen Mercer, Northern Plains Energy, Evergreen, CO, $1,500

Kathleen Neset, Tioga (I gave $1,250 and I’d be interested in being on the North Dakota Board of Higher Education in my spare time, if you have any openings)

Cody Ortowski, S&S Directional Drilling, Gainesville, TX, $2,500

Thomas Powers, Williston, $2,000

Lois Scheele, Williston, $3,500

Craig Slawson, Greenwood Village, CO, $1,000

Todd Slawson, Denver, $750

Robert Solberg, Texaco, Houston, $2,000

James Volker, Whiting Petroleum, Greenwood Village, CO, $2,500

Andrew Wambsganss, Southlake, TX, $2,500

John Washabaugh, United Energy, Highland Ranch, CO, $1,000

Martin White, MDU Resources, $2,000

Newton Wilson III, Houston, $2,500

Ronnie Witherspoon, Nabors Petroleum, Houston, $2,500

Paul Yale, Kingwood, TX, $1,000

Frank Bavendick, Bismarck, $3,000

Mike Fitzmaurice, Minot, $3,750

Ray Hunt, Dallas, $1,000

Bruce Hunt, Dallas, $1000 (Yeah, Governor, we’re from THAT Hunt family)

Raymond Plank, Apache, Clearmont, WY, $1,000

Bill Schriock, Gravel Products, Minot, $5,000

Todd Feid, Oasis Petroleum, $2,000

Todd Ballantyne, Ballantyne Oil and Gas, Westhope, $6,000

Mike Cantrell, Continental Resources, Ada, OK (I was wondering if my boss Harry was ever going to send you around. He leaned on me pretty hard to write that $5,000 check. Hoping my good faith effort results in a little $5,000 bonus at the end of the year.)

Lawrence Bender, Bismarck $5,000 (I’m from right here in Bismarck, Governor, but a lot of my clients are in the oil business. Pretty much all of them, in fact)

Well, there you are governor, almost got lost with this glass of scotch in this big crowd of friends of yours. Now, let’s see, where’s Ron Ness? I’m guessing he sent a lot of PAC checks your way. Oh, there he is. Hey, Ron, remind the Governor here about those oil company PAC checks you sent.

Well, sure, Governor, let’s see, there was that $10,000 check from my own PAC, North Dakota OilPAC, and then there was

Chesapeake PAC, Oklahoma City, $6,000

Denbury Resources PAC, Plano, TX, $6,000 (a drop in the bucket, Governor, when you add up to all the money they spent on cleaning up their spills and paying their fines)

Exxon Mobil PAC, Irving, TX, $2,000

YPAC, Los Angeles, $5,000

MDU Resources Group PAC, $3,800

Newfield PAC, Denver, $2,000

Oneok Empoloyees PAC, Topeka, KS, $1,000

QEP resources PAC, Denver, $2,000

Tesoro Petroleum PAC, Mandan, $1,000 (They’d have given more, Governor, but they were saving up in case they had to clean up a big spill up near Tioga or something.)

WPX Energy Inc., PAC, Washington, DC, $5,000

Whiting Petroleum PAC, Denver, $1,000

Conoco Philips, $1,000

Exxon Mobil, $600

Marathon, $10,000

Hess, $25,000

NuStar, San Antonio, TX, $2,500

OXYPAC, Los Angeles, $500

QEP North Dakota PAC, Denver, $1,000

Well, that was quite a little trip around the room, eh, Governor? You know, I had one of my girls add all those checks up that came to you to help with that little old campaign of yours, and it came to about $430,000. Now, how about you and I take a little walk back to that limo and have a little conversation about that Industrial Commission meeting tomorrow morning. You know, there really isn’t much all that special about those special places, is there?

Scene 3

Wednesday, January 29, 2014, 11:30 a.m.

North Dakota Capitol Building

Well, As the Governor and chairman, I’ll call this meeting of the North Dakota Industrial Commission to order. My friend Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has a little idea for shutting down the oil industry here in North Dakota, so I’m going to suggest he make a motion to postpone (for a long time, I hope) making a decision on his list of what he calls “special places.” Don’t want to stifle free enterprise, you know. All in favor? Motion carries.


6 thoughts on “A One-Act Play

  1. Just to let you know Don Bottrell wasn’t there at your meeting given that my brother died over a year ago…….


  2. Even though things come out into public view, it doesn’t seem to occur to the people in powerful positions that they should do the right thing. That’s the problem, they don’t know what the right thing is! Thanks for the blog, Jim. You give me hope.


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