The Nose is just back from a long weekend in Eastern Oregon. Specifically, Wallowa County, a spectacular place which, the Nose fears, many of his fey urbanite readers couldn't find on a map. (Fortunately, Wal-Mart hasn't found it, either.)

Out in the Joseph/Enterprise metroplex (pop.: about 7,000), men are men, and the women are strong. The altitude combines with the va-voom alcohol content of Terminal Gravity's excellent IPA for a wicked-cheap buzz. And most everyone there thinks Portland is high on more than life.

Schnozzo was sitting in Boeve's General Store-where you can buy bait, propane and a frosty pint-when the news arrived. After endless months of bickering, Portland Mayor Tom Potter ended up wanting to pull two city cops from the feds' Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Potter, an ex-police chief nervous about the Finest serving other bosses, wanted security clearance high enough to get the most thorough updates on task-force activity. Local head G-Man Robert Jordan wouldn't give it to him. Potter told Jordan to sit and spin (in not so many words).

"Have you people lost your minds?" one of the Nose's Wallowan drinking companions asked. "How can you put the whole city at risk like that? Seems like Portland takes the most extreme left-wing position possible, on just about every issue."

The Nose was dying to agree with her.

After all, the JTTF debate has often taken a typically Portland detour into political Cuckooland. Lefties detected a chance to hit the hated Bush administration and rabbited on about civil liberties, Japanese internment, the Trilateral Commission, etc. All of which was so annoying.

The Nose really wanted to buy the conventional Wallowa wisdom-i.e., that the whole ruckus was stupid. If the feds need a couple of cops to catch Osama, why not pony them up and go back to growing organic arugula? (Chief selling points: It would drive the Nose's cousin Stoner Karl, who has a "LIVE SIMPLY'' bumper sticker and thus obviously hates freedom, crazy.)

Unfortunately, even after three IPAs, the Nose was forced to defend his city's honor. Comrade-Mayor Potter and People's Commissar Randy Leonard (the loudest JTTF foe on City Council) called this one right. And the Nose suspects that if it weren't for the deranging effects of Sept. 11, his new friends in Eastern Oregon might see it the same way.

We do want the feds to get the bad guys. And we're sure there are still a few around. But absolute power having a reputation for you know what-we, too, would feel more comfortable if the local cops had a bit more oversight, a bit more information. If Potter has authority on anything, we'd wager, it's an awareness of how the feds can occasionally overstep their bounds.

In fact, in different political climes, Red Oregon would probably be just as eager as Blue Oregon to give los federales the raspberry. The Nose knows no true Beaver Stater, east or west, wants D.C. messing with his/her gun, medical marijuana, prescription suicide drugs, strange reading material, odd associates or weird ideas.

Sadly, times being what they are, the drinking party simply had to agree to disagree.