This brings back bitter memories of the early Bush years. We were living in Oregon when the Klamath lake was too dry to sustain surrounding farms and ranches. Once this became a wider "issue" it felt like we were being invaded by outside interests who claimed to be on the side of farmers and ranchers but in fact had a more cynical motive of getting rid of environmental protections altogether. This was indeed the the wingnut's new Clenis and farmers and ranchers who generally despised the Willamette Valley and all its inhabitants were all-too-willing participants, letting out seething rage at anyone who dared speak up. We were no longer welcome in certain parts of our own state. A decade after the Clinton Forest Plan, they found a new spotted owl in the suckerfish, with all the tired old BS that surrounds resource overuse issues in the West: people are an endangered species, locals know better than anyone else how to protect the environment, city folk are rich pampered egoists, etc., etc.
As it turned out, contrary to better judgement Cheney pushed through opening the irrigation gates which resulted in coho salmon deaths. While the wingnuts were trying to make the case that the state fisheries board was responsible for clubbing these fish to death, everyone knew what was going on: the swimming hot dogs were killed the same way they were every year, while the wild coho were killed by federal mismanagement. One thing about Oregonians, they know their salmon and the last thing you want to do is threaten the wild ones. And they're not too bad at smelling rats either.
Cheney's stunt was designed to increase Oregon voter turnout for Bush/Cheney in '04 and Republicans in general in '02 and '04. In the end, it likely had the opposite effect. The only reason things were as tight as they were between Gore and Bush in 2000 was that Nader received a significant percentage of the vote from Oregon Democrats disgruntled with their party moving away from environmental issues in the 90s. Once the fish kill happened, Republicans pretty much lost large chunks of the Oregon coast--it's always interesting to see how "blue" some of the larger towns like Newport are--and they lost the all-important suburban vote.