In Virginia’s U.S. Senate race, Nevada has become a one-liner.

Incumbent Republican George Allen is in a wide lead over Democrat James Webb, but opinion surveys show that voter aversion to Iraq and George Bush are weakening Allen.

Webb, Navy secretary under Ronald Reagan, is opposed to the Iraq war. Allen has said, “I do not think we should tuck tail, run and surrender.” He has also criticized Webb’s opposition to an anti-flag-burning amendment, and it was this that brought Nevada into the race.

After an Allen campaign spokesperson questioned Webb’s patriotism, a Webb aide said, “While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen Jr.'s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada. People who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield.”

The phrase “playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada” is now making the rounds of Virginia politics. There are 1,450 hits for it on Google.

Allen had previously used his college summers on a Nevada ranch as a credential. His spokesperson once said, “Having herded cattle as a buckaroo on a Nevada ranch during college summers, Sen. Allen knows first-hand the hard work and values of the American cowboy and their families.” That was in response to a question about whether Allen had seen the film Brokeback Mountain.

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...