2020 Governor Featured Montana Politics Ryan Zinke US Politics

Secretary Zinke’s Flailing Career at Interior Hits a New Low With Attack on Congressman

It’s surprising that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke wasn’t a Navy Diver rather than a SEAL given his penchant for sinking lower than most people could imagine. Whenever his position or immense ego are threatened, Zinke finds a way to respond in a way that is almost certainly undignified and often borderline illegal.

And he’s back at it again, using his official Twitter account to launch an attack on a member of Congress that set a new low this week.

Following Congressman Raúl Grijalva’s call for the ethically challenged and scandal-plagued Secretary to resign from office, Zinke tweeted an attack on the Congressman, calling him a drunk who can’t “think straight from the bottom of a bottle.”

As a long time observer of Secretary Zinke who has often wondered if he’s been sober during public appearances and television interviews, my first reaction to the attack was a sense of surprise that Zinke would call attention to anyone’s drinking, especially given that one of the seventeen ongoing investigations into his tenure at Interior is centered around his effort to secure the brewpub he has dreamed of operating for so long.

The more I thought about it, though, the less surprised I was. Zinke’s use of his official Twitter account to launch a petty, personal, political attack on an opponent is something he’s copied from his Dear Leader, as were the predictable continuations of the attack launched by Zinke’s spokesperson and wife. It’s what shameless criminals do: when confronted with clear evidence of their misdeeds, malefactors like Zinke and Trump just launch wild counter-punches with no regard for the damage they’re doing to the offices they hold and the institutions and norms that undergird our system.

The press does its job and points out a scandal? Scream they are “fake news” and tacitly support violence against them. Members of Congress fulfill their constitutional obligation to exercise oversight over the executive? Attack them personally and try to destroy them.

It’s what Zinke has done from the beginning of his ignoble pursuit of higher office. When he was caught running a Super PAC for personal gain, Zinke blamed those who called him out for it. When he outed the members of Navy SEAL Team 6 after the bin Laden raid, Zinke called for the Vice President to face criminal charges for it.

The clock is running out on Zinke’s tenure at Interior, whether he leaves the office because Trump finally cuts him loose or because he leaves through the new $139,000 doors to his office in handcuffs. The only real question at this point is just how far he’ll sink–and drag the Department of the Interior with him–before he finally goes.

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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  • Rep Grijalva has served his AZ district since 2003. His margin of victory in his re-election this year was 23 points over his GOP opponent. His constituents know who he is, what he stands for, and how much he does for them. They also have a pretty good idea who Zinke is, and how little he cares about them.

    I suspect that every time Zinke, or someone else in the so-called president’s administration swamp, shoots off at the mouth, Rep Grijalva picks up another 1,000 or so votes for 2020.

  • The only reason I do NOT want to see Zinke forced out is that he’ll probably be replaced by somone even more firmly in the grip of the fossil fuels industry. Zinke’s hopes (or delusions) about future elective office in Montana at least hold him back a little.

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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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