It was the most cinematic of moments, and Michele Fiore was not going to miss it.
As helicopters swirled overhead and heavily armed FBI agents crept ever closer, the four frantic, fearsome anti-government occupiers still inside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge heard a familiar voice on the telephone line.
“We’re putting our big-girl panties on now, and we are taking America back.”
Michele Fiore to the rescue. From the floor of the Portland airport five hours away, Fiore, 45, proceeded to act as the occupiers’ de facto negotiator, at times agreeing with their radical views and at others, calming them down. The Nevada state assemblywoman and occupation supporter said she had spoken to the FBI and received assurances that the Feds wouldn’t kick down the door. “We’re going to make it though this, and we’re going to write about it,” she said on the occupiers’ live-streamed conference call.
By night’s end, the occupiers had tentatively agreed to turn themselves in Thursday, largely thanks to Fiore’s intervention.
The brash Las Vegas grandma is one of the most colorful, controversial political characters in the country. She has posed in racy wall calendars with an assortment of semi-automatic rifles. She once wrote, produced and starred in her own movie.
She is a staunch Republican who wears cowboy boots and packs a pistol at all times yet she also backs gay marriage and marijuana legalization. She is a fiscal conservative who at one point owed the IRS more than $1 million. And she is a congressional candidate who keeps saying outrageous things, often about shooting people — Syrian refugees and sexual predators — in the head. “I am 100 percent politically incorrect, and I say bad words,” she told the Sun.