The arrogance of Ammon Bundy, who heads an armed group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, seems to have no bounds.

When the local sheriff offered to escort

them from the refuge, the lawless Bundy declared, "We will take that offer. But not yet."

You'd think these zealots, who are protesting federal land management policies as well as the sentences of two local ranchers on arson charges, were in a position of strength. In fact, they have virtually no support: not from the convicted ranchers, not in the local community, and certainly not elsewhere outside a few crackpot circles who dream that the federal government will someday abandon its landholdings in the West.

The patience of federal and local law enforcement during the occupation of the refuge has been commendable. If a confrontation can be avoided, then by all means wait the protesters out.

But when Bundy and his gang do relent, authorities should throw the book at them.

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