Jane Kleeb: The Keystone Killer
Without Jane Kleeb, the Keystone XL pipeline might be a done deal right now. The 39-year-old former MTV correspondent and founder of Bold Nebraska, a grass roots activist group, staged a brilliantly subversive campaign to galvanize opposition to the 1,700 mile pipeline which would carry dirty tar sands oil from Canada down to Gulf Coast refineries. Instead of trying to convince red-staters to care about climate change, she found a telegenic Republican rancher named Randy Thompson who had been butting heads with TransCanada, the Canadian company that wants to build the pipeline, and let him do the talking. "I know what my folks went through to get a piece of ground. And these sons of bitches come along and they tell me we're going to take this land away from you whether you want us to or not," Thompson told one reporter, "and they got a fight on their hands." The campaign, which played out on billboards, t-shirts, and TV spots across the state, turned Thompson into a folk hero, rallied thousands of Nebraskans around the cause and forced President Obama to call for further review. Kleeb's latest challenge: keeping Nebraska ranchers cool if Obama approves the pipeline later this year. "They are very angry," Kleeb says. "I tell them, 'You can not take up arms. A gun is not going to solve this." What should they do instead? "Run for office themselves."