Bob Bernt, a bear of a man, a rancher and a lifelong Republican, had about 25 people over recently for a pork-and-beans cookout.

The ranchers and farmers who drove their pickups to Bernt’s place were almost all Republicans, of one stripe or another. One sported a Ron Paul button. Another said he had lived — until recently — as “no opinion Tom.” Some admired the tea party; others derided it.

After an afternoon of floating down a nearby river, sampling Bernt’s organic cheese and ice cream, and listening to a cowboy poet, they sat under a large white tent to talk about what really brought them together: standing up to the big pipeline company TransCanada.

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