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.