A Few Important Things To Know About Ryan Zinke, Potential Interior Nominee

The news today that Donald Trump is reportedly considering Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke for the position of Secretary of the Interior sent shock waves through Montana politics, and confirmed that Donald Trump is entirely committed to appointing those who are loyal to him, no matter how unqualified they may be for the post. Congressman Zinke, rated as one of the least effective members of Congress in his one term, would continue the Trump train wreck, given the serious concerns about his experience, honesty, and ethics.

Here are just a few samplers the national press may want to investigate as they vet the potential nominee.

He Might Not Have Received the Offer

While it seems likely—and even probable—that Trump has, in fact, offered the position to the Congressman, I wouldn’t believe it until named sources confirm the offer. Zinke has previously suggested, during his first term in Congress, that he was seriously being considered for Speaker of the House. He also told the Montana press that he was under consideration for the Vice Presidential nomination or Secretary of Defense in a Trump administration. He’s a self-aggrandizing fabulist, and I certainly wouldn’t reject the idea that it’s Zinke himself who has floated his name to the press again.

He’s Got a Terrible Record on Climate Change

Congressman Zinke simply cannot be trusted on climate change. In 2010, as a Montana State Senator, he signed a letter calling climate change a “significant national security challenge, ” arguing for clean, renewable energy to prevent catastrophic danger to the US military and economy. By 2014, he was arguing that there was no evidence of climate change affecting the weather, and by 2015, that climate change was neither real nor a national security threat. That’s roughly at the level of Donald Trump’s staff deleting his tweets about climate change while he was lying in the presidential debate.

He’s Got a Terrible Record on Public Lands

While Zinke has recently positioned himself as some sort of maverick Republican bucking his party when it comes to selling off public lands, he’s a recent, and uncommitted convert. In the same week, he trumpeted his independence from his party, he voted for HR 2316, which would allow the transfer of millions of acres of federally managed, public lands. Worse yet, he signed a pledge in 2012 calling for the transfer of federally managed public lands to state control. This paragraph, from February 2015, shows just how little trust we can have in Zinke when it comes to a consistent, honest position on public lands:

And this brings us back to those who are supposed to be watching Zinke—and the rest of our political leadership. None of the reporters covering Zinke’s speech that demanded a stand be taken had the courage or energy to report that he has been all over the map on public lands, in 2012 signing a pledge calling for the “transfer of public lands to state control,” in April 2014 writing an op-ed criticizing those who called for land transfers, noting it would cost the state millions of dollars, before in October of 2014, telling the AP in October that “federal land-management decisions must be approved by local government officials.”

He’s Got a Troubling Connection to Retired Generals Who Called for a Coup

The least covered story about Congressman Zinke has to be his association with retired General Paul Vallely, who called for a coup against the federal government, prayed for a terrorist attack against the United States to lead to the overthrow of President Obama, and offered up the idea that he might gather thousands of “patriots” in Washington to conduct a citizens’ arrest against untold dozens of people in the federal government. None of this prevented Congressman Zinke, who has repeatedly been connected to the general, from hosting an event for him (and an accused crook) in Washington at his office.

One More Note

If an enterprising reporter were interested in covering the Congressman’s family, there’s certainly an interesting story about the fabulous tales that have been told by the Congressman about his wife and her job experience. Taken together, they’re about as believable as his claim he was considered for House Speaker.

The Bottom Line

I’m sure there will be a tendency in the press to explore Zinke’s more colorful foibles, like his calls to invade Mexico, his endorsement of torture, his decision to call Hilary Clinton “the Anti-Christ,” his exploitation of the SEAL logo, or his repeated dishonest assertions about Benghazi, but there are a dozen substantive reasons to reject Congressman Zinke for the Interior post. And wouldn’t it be amazing to see the national press step in and actually vet Zinke, something that absolutely didn’t happen in his last race for Congress?

If nothing else, perhaps someone can get him to explain his penchant for praising tyrannical leaders who torture.

One can only hope it will happen this time.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • On Nov. 21, Secretary Jewell announced the Obama Administration’s ban of new mining claims on 30,000 acres near Yellowstone National Park. On. Jan. 21, Secretary Zinke will announce the Trump Administration’s lift of the ban of new mining claims on 30,000 acres near Yellowstone National Park.

  • I agree with Don that Rep Ryan Zinke has a terrible record on climate change and a terrible record on public lands.

    From what I have observed Rep Ryan Zinke has proven to be a huge support of dramatically increasing fracking, mining, grazing and logging on America’s federal public lands. Rep Zinke has time and again proven to be anti-science and anti-Endangered Species Act.

    Just last week Zinke teams up with Sen Tester and Sen Daines and a group of ‘collaborators’ to introduce legislation into Congress that would simply undermine the Endangered Species Act and America’s U.S. Court System in order to make sure that logging and roadbuilding can continue to take place in critical habitat for lynx, which are listed under the ESA. The lynx issue is important since as Sec of Interior Zinke would be in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Personally, I also don’t feel that simply because someone has stated that they would not sell-off, or give away, America’s public lands that this somehow makes that person a huge public lands champion, or a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican.” I mean, how low has the conservation movement set the “Public Lands Champ” bar that they would apparently allow Ryan Zinke to sneak under it?

    So I greatly appreciate that Don has come out of retirement to let his readers know that Zinke has a terrible record on climate change, public lands and like I pointed out has very much been anti-wildlife, anti-ESA and pro-tracking, coal, grazing and logging and America’s public lands.

    However, has everyone seen how some conservation groups in Montana are literally failing all over themselves to suck of to Ryan Zinke and make him out to be some modern day John Muir? This article contains a lot of those types of quotes: http://flatheadbeacon.com/2016/12/13/report-zinke-tapped-interior-secretary/

    It’s also worth remembering everything that Ryan Zinke will direct and manage as Sec of Interior.

    “The U.S. Department of the Interior uses sound science to manage and sustain America’s lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources, honors our nation’s responsibilities to tribal nations, and advocates for America’s island communities.” (Source: https://www.doi.gov/whatwedo)

    Take a look here at what all falls under his leadership:

    Bureau of Indian Affairs
    Bureau of Indian Education
    Bureau of Land Management
    Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
    Bureau of Reclamation
    Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
    National Park Service
    Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    U.S. Geological Survey

    Apparently Ryan Zinke leading the Dept of Interior is “champagne-cork times for some of the conservation groups” as University of Montana political science professor Rob Saldin said. Wow. Just wow.

    • Horrible radio show on MTPR last night with a bunch of “conservation” groups praising Zinke, including NPCA:

      Michael Jamison heads the National Parks Conservation Association’s Crown of the Continent initiative. He says Zinke is a champion of America’s public lands, but also understands the balance between conservation and development:

      “Having someone from this region is a real boon to us,” Jamison says. “He understands our issues. He understands things like wilderness and oil and gas. He understands that there’s a place for development, and there’s also a place for protection.


      I guess years and years of dem acquiescence to mamby-pamby environmentalism has finally come to the point where many of them are fine with the likes of a Zinke.

      • That’s a terrible statement from Jamison. I suppose there are some “conservation” groups that are covering their asses and paying lip service to Zinke, since they’ll have to deal with him and his policies.

        I prefer the MEIC’s response: “Our public lands deserve to be managed for the benefit of present and future generations. With Congressman Zinke, the only ones who will benefit are fossil fuel, climate-denying industries. Taxpayers and the American public will lose.”

        As to the “dem acquiescence,” the Democrats I associate with are much closer to the MEIC’s take on Zinke than Jamison’s approach.

        • My comment wasn’t directed at you Pete. Moreso, it was directed at environmental groups and their leaders that are more concerned with politics and foundation funding than with policy and adhering to their stated missions. Over the years politics and money have diverted many, many nonprofits away from their core principles.

          Those of us who have called this out (including former leaders and board members of these groups) have been lambasted in the press and blogs for adhering to our principles, and refusing to compromise them. Now we are seeing the results of this ratcheting of well funded “conservation” groups to the right.

          Zinke will just continue the efforts of the likes of James Watt and Gail Norton to push rampant development over meaningful conservation. Hopefully the pushback will start to unratchet groups like MWA and NPCA away from their rightward drift (doubtful).

          Of course (oil) money from the PEW Foundation — and its fellow funders — directing nonprofits’ policies and projects will keep groups from meaningfully opposing Zinke’s moves to privatize/sell-off resources, open fragile lands and waters to leasing, and minimizing threatened and endangered species protection.

        • Hi Pete. Good comment, and I agree with you that “That’s a terrible statement from Jamison.”

          You want to know what’s especially interesting?

          The National Parks Conservation Association that Michael Jamison works for actually produces a National Parks scorecard where they rate the votes of members of Congress.

          Guess what? The NPCA’s “National Parks Action Fund” actually gave Rep Ryan Zinke a rating of just 9% (A solid “F”) for all his anti-National Parks votes in 2016.

          Source: http://nationalparksaction.org/scorecard/

        • Here’s a few more group’s takes on Zinke, from the Flathead Beacon:

          Brian Sybert, executive director of the Montana Wilderness Association, said Zinke would “carry Montana’s values” into his new role.

          “That means protecting access to public lands, ensuring our forests and prairies are indeed managed for multiple use and not just resource extraction, and respecting that wild places and public lands are core American values that he’ll need to protect for all citizens,” Sybert said. “


          “Congressman Zinke understands the importance of public lands and balancing management of these important resources with energy development and other uses,” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney said in a statement. “As Montana’s lone representative in the House of Representatives, Mr. Zinke has showed himself to be receptive to the interests of a wide range of constituents and a potential ally of sportsmen and other outdoor recreationists.”

      • In fact they own a home in Hope Ranch in SB, Zinke has listed his office in official filings as 735 State Street SB, and according to the Montana Cadastral there is no property registered in the name of Zinke in Flathead Co. And btw my name is spelled “Priscilla”.

        • Priscilla/Draftmama,
          My apologies on misspelling you name.

          The Zinke’s home and other properties in the Flathead County are owned by the Zinke’s under their company’s name – Continental Divide International.

          You appear to be operating under the assumption that a person must “own” a residence in Montana to be eligible to hold public office. That is not true. A person must simply meet the requirements of being a “legal resident” which includes maintaining a permanent place of abode in the state. A permanent place of abode can include property someone owns, rents or even a tent pitched on your neighbors lawn as long as they can prove it is a “permanent residence.” There are exceptions in place for active duty military.

          Note that when Don Pogreba ran in the 2008 primary for Governor of Montana, he did not own a home in Montana. He rented. Of course that didn’t stop him from frequently implying that Congressman Zinke was ineligible to hold public office by falsely claiming he didn’t “own” property in Montana. Again, just fake news.

          • Slinky might be MORE comfortable in Moscow! I hear Puty’s lookin’ for a stable boy! Then, Slinky can wipe the glistening erogenous sweat off Ras Putin’s manly body while singing the glorious praises of such a manly man in the mother land! THAT’S enough to make Slinky’s winky twinky!

            BTW, Slinky left Montana for some thirty years and bought a residence in Californyeeha! Does that make him a Montanan? Not hardly. For you see, Flojo Possum, we actually WORK for a living in Montana. Did Slinky ever have a real job? If so, WHAT? If so, WHEN? If so, where???

            Slinky has worked for the gummint in one respect or another his entire life! Scholarship to the BIGGEST party college in the country. I know. I’ve BEEN there. Back in the sixties. Don’t remember much about it though, ’cause I was passed out most of my career there!

            And really, a geology degree? A MONKEY can get the special football scholarship geology degree from Eugene. Need proof? Look at Slinky! Or some of my friends! Slinky AIN’T what you call an intellectual. Hey, I have a great idea. How ’bout me and a reetart like me doin’ a Jeopardy game? Too funny.

            Slinky is exactly what he appears to be, a traitorous loser of VERY low moral character (as described by his Seal superiors), who is an idiot without a cause! He will wipe the sweat off Puty, the Donald, or ANY one so he don’t have to get a real job where you actually sweat!

            And really, just WHY did he pick that little bald headed dufus with his own CIA as his running mate? Strange, very strange. Slinky is a loser. And all the seal skin in the world can’t cover up that slime! Trust me. It’s gonna show. Get him on a national stage, and the seal’s gonna squeal like a piggy! Just like Ratco did!

          • Unlike Zinke, I didn’t have a single press account that called me a resident of another state. I also didn’t have any fundraisers listed as occurring in my California home. I also didn’t have a spouse telling the press that we lived in California, either.

            Just a few differences.

          • Well I dunno know about you, but it’s 13 below here in Helena and if I still had a home in SB that is where I would be right now lol. Wonder where Zinke is.

            • He’s wipin’ the sweat off his babushka, the lovely Puty Pute! Geez, mama. Ever live on the Hi Line? In the old days? Twenty to thirty below every morning. Ain’t no big deal. Hell, you just dress for it. In fact, I love it! Put a big log on the fire, pop open some brewskies, and wash’em down with brandy! I call that heaven! PEACE full heaven!

              Seriously though, I have run every morning in Montana for the last forty-five years! (unless I was in the hospital) Yes, I’m the original Forest Gump.

              And I gotta tell ya I LUV winter. It’s about the only time of year when I don’t have to look at fat welfare mamas in their extree large tank tops and their slack-jawed Walmart luvin’ husbands covered in prison tattoos!

              And I kinda like that. Reminds me of old Montana.

  • Slinky the Barking Seal has gone from being a Seal’s Seal to a poodle’s poodle! Yes, that’s right. Drumpf is obviously RasPutin’s poodle, and Slinky is Drumpf’s poodle! Guess that Slinky, like Drumpf, just loves a shirtless tyrant on horseback too!

    Bottom line is that Slinky is slimey, BIG time slimey. And he’s a traitor. He has operated in the international underworld for a long time, the underworld that has NO allegiance to this country at all. Why do you think he picked that little bald headed Livingstone dude for a running mate?

    Slinky, like the international criminal organization he belongs to, feels that he is above the laws of our country, and that he is not beholden to this country in at way other than to make money! I guaran- TEE you he knew about the influence of the Russians in our recent election before hand. What would that make him? A traitor, right? And that is what Slinky is. Hell, even his old commander said Slinky was of very questionable moral behavior because he is!

    He is right up there with Eric Prince, the ex-navy seal nazzzi nutjob who founded Black Water, and now owns his OWN military style air force for hire. Yep, they’re all buddies, these little fascist men, and Drumpf is putting them all in charge! Prince’s sister, a vile conwoman, is now our secretary of education! Truly amazing!

    But it gets worse. Take a little time and research the ties between Livingstone, Monafort, Roger Stone, Slinky, Drumpf, and Ras Putin! Jeezus! It’s a cabal of evil! They actually BRAG about disrupting the elections around the world to put into power fellow nazzzis just like Drumpf! Roger Stone led the so called Brooks Brothers riot that put bush in the white house. He STOPPED the recount in Florida with that riot, remember?

    Yep. It’s all there if your want to research it. Drumpf, knew, Slinky knew, Livingstone knew. Ghouliani knew, and even SAID so. They ALL knew of Russian interference in our election, because they were PART AND PARCEL of it. It’s how they operate, AND have operated for a long time in danm near every country around the world! And guess what? NOW they don’t care who knows it! They feel that they are immune from prosecution or repercussions. And hell, who knows, they may be right!

    But even so, I still think the truth matters. The American people must know that these guys are all traitors. They helped steal the election with foreign interference. Is that the American way of doing things? I would say not!

    Again, if I have a block of time, I will try to connect the dots more fully. I know that the info is out there. Slinky knew. He’s in the loop of evil based upon his military connections to guys like Prince, and his close association with Livingstone and the slime he represents. These guys committed a bloodless coup. Now, some Americans might think that’s OK. But I don’t! Now, I want my country back from this slime!


    • p.s. I’m old, VERY old. I knew well the greatest generation. And those guys would be out in the f*ckin’ streets looking for fascists so they could beat their f*cking asses to a pulp! Geez, how I wish they were still here. How I wish those guys, my dad, my teachers, my mentors were still here. THEY would make short work of these fascist pukes like Drumpf and Slinky. For you see, cowards and traitors are NO match for real American men! The miners from Butte would’a pantsed lil’ Slinky and made him run around town naked while they threw snowballs at the little pisssant. I guaran-TEE it! Slinky is a puke that besmirches the reputation of REAL heroes from the greatest generation. And that makes me sick!

  • UH oh! Lil’ Slinky’s winky is startin’ to look a leetle limp! But I say GOOD! Ya know, Drumpf is SO frickin’ outrageous that he just might blow this sucker yet! And I HOPE he takes all his traitorous pukes down with him, like Slinky the Barking Seal!


    Hey, Slinky, you gonna put me in jail, boy? See you at Standing Rock, dinky! Leave your cop army at home. You and me, we can settle this mano a mano if you’ve got any testosterone left after felating your Ruskie lover boy Puty! It’s comin’! Sitting Bull is there with the popcorn!


  • Don,

    Again, more spin on more fake news.

    You don’t appear to understand the legal definition of a legal residence for the purposes of qualifying to serve in state office. Baucus owned a home outside of Montana where he and his wife lived for considerable amount of time during the year while he served in Montana but he still qualified as a legal resident of Montana.

    You also erroneously argue that a person must “own” a home in Montana to be eligible to run or serve in office. Zinke owns his residence in Montana but you didn’t own a home when you ran for Governor. Did that make you legally ineligible to run or serve as Governor?

    • Maybe you should read the actual post about why I questioned Zinke’s residency. It had very little to do with his ownership of a home in Montana, though that was certainly part of the evidence.

  • This from Matthew’s 12:19 link:

    . . . the Dept of Interior manages 1/5 of the entire land base in the U.S., 35,000 miles of coastlines and 1.76 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf.

    If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Ryan Zinke would be in charge of 70,000 employees . . . .

  • YIKES! Someone call the Commanduncy of Poodle Team Six, Herr Slinkenheimer, the Barking Poodle! I theenk I may have rooted out a terrorist for Herr Slinkenheimer! I don’t know who this lady is, but I LUV HER STYLE! Surely Herr Slinkenheimer needs to call her in for questioning!


    BTW, WHEN is Herr Dumkopf Slinkenheimer gonna write that letter to the Montana dailies explaining just WHY we need to turn our social security over to Herr Dumpkoff Trumpenshizer?! For you see, I really, really, REALLY want to know! I been tryin’ to tell grandma that she can’t have any more premium cat food for dinner now that Herr Slinkeshizer needs if for all the billionaires! And his pals in the military! But grandma still can’t understand. She just don’t get it. She keeps mumblin’ sumthin’ about the Bonus Army and how we’re gonna kicks some nazzzzi arse, just like our grandpa done.

    Ya see, we WORKED for our social security, unlike Commanduncy Slinkeshizer, who sucked off the gummint his entire life. And grandma keeps sayin’ that if Zinkshizer were to give up HIS military pension. by GOD she give up her SS too!

    But I don’t theenk Herr Zinkeshizer is willing to do that. Who ’bout it, your most royal shizerness? You willing to give up your military pension, your Pukeness??? Me thinks that traitor boy Zinkenshizer needs to figure out just WHAT country he’s workin’ for! Freedom ain’t free if you’re workin’ for your buddy Pooty Patootie! How ’bout it, Zinkenshizer? Any of your Russian trolls wanna come on the site and talk about it? You showed up once on a site, and after you got whipped, you slinky-ed off!

  • Ryan Zinkenshizer the Barking Poodle and the Drumpfurher protecting your “freedom”. Yep, that’s right. Zinkenshizer is right IN there protecting your freedom. In fact, these two dinkwads LUV them some Freedom Party! Michael Flynn loves freedom too. We’re ALL nazzzis now!
    FREEEEEEEDUMB! (are you scared yet? you should be) Unbelievable.


    We can’t let fascism and Nazism be normalized, folks. It’s NOT a good thing, nor a good replacement for our democracy.

  • Yup. I just upgraded my concealed carry gun from pea shooter to thug killer. Just thought it was time. But do listen to what the guy in the video says. Dammmit! If Dems had been listening, we’d have our real president elect back now! But they didn’t, and they wouldn’t, so now we can’t. But HEY, we have gay marriage and trans something bathrooms. That’s KINDA like democracy, right?


  • Come ON, America! Gawd DAMMMIT I’m gettin’ too OLD for this shizer! Not again! My heart can’t take another fluckin’ coup! Do sumthin’ about it this time. Don’t let the Kock bros., Slinky the Barking Seal and his little butt buddy Livingscam steal a NOTHER frickin’ election from us! I’m tired of being a third world country. Fight back in whatever way you can. The nazzzis can’t win by default again. Hell, I’ve got grandkids now. Fight back! Our country, our environment, and our democracy depends upon it! Show up wherever these dinks are and raise hell!

    Not this time, Slinky. Not this time. Go ahead. Make my day!…..if you’re feelin’ lucky, puke!

    Which brings up another point. Are there REALLY no real navy seals out there who love this country, or all they all like Zinkenshizer and his little butt buddy with his own CIA? I simply refuse to accept that. Come ON, real American navy seals. Put this puke in his place! It’s your country too you know!


  • Uh oh. Talked to some of my old Nam pals today regarding Slinky the Barking Seal. Them boys don’t LIKE a dinke like Zinke besmirching the reputation of our fighting men from the past. In fact, one guy even went so far as to insult the Barking Seal real good. Here it is, if not word for word, pretty close as I remember:

    Everyone gave something,
    Some gave everything,
    And some STOLE everything they could get their hands on!

    Yup, I said. That pretty much sums up ol’ Slinky the Barking Seal. Guess that THAT is why Lord Cheeto wanted him in his cabinet. He’s not a patriot. He’s a fraud who DEE frauded our government! It’s called stealing, folks, in case you don’t know. Slinky would kiss Lord Cheeto’s ass in public with the Pope and his parents in the front row if he thought he could steal another taxpayer dollar with OUT having to work for a living!

    HEY, don’t hate me. I’m just the messenger for a coulpe’a old Nam Vets like myself. We don’t like little lifer pukes like Zinke who stole from the public coffers. We didn’t. And now, Slinky should be held accountable!

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