OK, Kain's post says that "Carter deregulated the beer industry, opening the market back up to craft brewers." It turns out, as it often does in our Madisonian system, that things are a bit more complicated than that. Apparently, the bill Carter signed made home brewing legal, which in turn apparently led to innovation, which apparently led to the microbrewery explosion of the 1990s, although apparently only after some relevant state and local laws were changed. Yes, that's a lot of "apparently"s; I'm not even a beer drinker, and I'm not going to chase down the details beyond that. My verdict: if people want to say that the bill in question was a big piece of why beer got better, I'm not going to argue with them.
But was this actually Jimmy Carter's accomplishment? Reason's Greg Beato takes up the story in an article from last year:
In 1978, however, a supplier of beer-making equipment in Rochester, New York, asked his congressman, Barber Conable (R–N.Y.), to sponsor a bill that would extend the home winemakers’ exemption to DIY beer makers.I can't say that I've read Fleming's biography of Conable (beyond the linked excerpt), but it sure seems to me that if this version is correct than calling this law Carter's is entirely wrong. Instead, this basically sounds like a typical story of a Member of Congress representing a ("special") interest from his district. Granted, had Carter chosen to fight Conable's bill, it's possible he might have been able to stop it, but perhaps not. Regardless, no one deserves to be called the hero of a story for acquiescing in what the real players did. And apparently the real players here were in Congress, led by Barber Conable.
According to James Fleming, author of a 2004 biography of Conable called Window on Congress, the congressman had no great interest in home brewing. He wasn’t even a beer drinker. In 2002, when two reporters contacted Conable to discuss his role in helping jump-start the “American beer renaissance,” he didn’t even recall the bill. But when he introduced it to his colleagues in 1978 Conable apparently felt more passionately, insisting that independent Americans shouldn’t have to “rely on the beer barons” for their daily libations. According to an Associated Press article written at the time, the bill “sailed through the House on a voice vote with no audible objection.”
Under the guidance of Sen. Alan Cranston (D–Calif.), it fared much the same in the Senate. Then Carter signed it into law.
Why do I bother with this sort of thing? Well, I'll fess up on this one to a perhaps overdeveloped dislike of Jimmy Carter, so there's that...but really, it's just a bonus. The truth is that when we treat the president as if he was the entire government; when we go along with a political culture in which hatred of Congress and hatred of Special Interests is expected, what we're doing is ignoring and disdaining the things that make American democracy such a tremendous accomplishment. In a nation of 300 millions, it really is an amazing thing that some small business owner can contact his or her Member of Congress, and next thing you know there's a whole new industry and and a whole lot of happy consumers. It's too bad that we haven't found a way to celebrate that sort of thing, but if you want to start, make sure you ignore Jimmy Carter and hoist one instead for Barber Conable, Member of Congress from New York from 1965 to 1984. And your second bottle? Make that for James Madison. After that, you're on your own.