One down, two to go

It would be bad form to pile on former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Enough has been written at this very site (here, here and here) and elsewhere (here, here and here). But his whining in Sunday’s Missoulian deserves note. It’s on the heels of 17 ethics investigations while in office, which Zinke called: 

“vicious and politically motivated attacks” and “meritless and false claims” and “to some, truth no longer matters.”

Zinke doth protest too much, methinks. After all, he didn’t stick around to fight the charges, just took to Twitter like his boss.

His ethical malfeasance in office, though, pales in comparison to the damage he has done to Mother Earth. Here’s what Jonathon Jarvis, a former director of the National Park Service, writes in the Guardian:

Millions of acres that were available for outdoor recreation will now be held by private companies for fossil fuel development. Many distinguished career public servants will be gone and many mid-level employees will be reconsidering their career choices. Regulations that protect our air, water and wildlife will be weakened and need rebuilding. And our options for addressing climate change will have been narrowed. The one thing that the Zinke administration cannot rewrite is history, and history will not be kind to his tenure.

What about the legacy of Montana’s junior senator and our sole representative in Congress? As one after another in the corrupt Trump administration makes for the exits, and with Trump confidents rolling over on a regular basis, the ship of state is taking on water. Will Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte make like rats as the Trump ship founders? Will they push women and children aside as they scramble for the lifeboats?

Both were more than happy to fly aboard Air Force One to midterm election rallies in Montana, so there’s no sign that the senator or representative are abandoning ship. On the other hand, they aren’t exactly singing Trump praises as of late, going as far as to disagree with the President on the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian hacking in the 2016 election.

Compare that to this quote shortly after Trump’s inauguration, from the Daines’ website:

President Trump Will Make America Great Again

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines today released the following statement on the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

“As I watched President Trump take the oath of office today, I had a renewed sense of encouragement about the future of our country,” Daines stated. “Today is the day where we start to return control of our government back to the people it serves and create policies that promote growth, innovation and more good-paying jobs.”

The boldface copy is Daines’ and BTW, how’s that Trump agenda working out for you, Senator?

Gianforte was more than willing to ride Trump coattails in the midterm election. This is a Gianforte quote from a Billings Gazette story:

“The question Montana faces is do we want someone who is going to stand with President Trump and continue to deliver results for Montana, or do we want someone who honestly is going to join the resistance and stand with Nancy Pelosi.”

Not a wise statement, Greg, considering it looks like Pelosi will be the next speaker of the House and will be controlling the floor.

Daines and Gianforte must be having sleepless nights now wondering if the leader of their party is about to be indicted or impeached or just become a vestigial organ in his last two years in office. Will Trump’s downward spiral take Steve and Greg (and the Republican Party) with him? The anxiety those two must be feeling couldn’t happen to more deserving guys. This sums it up, from the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub:

When this is over, when the lights are turned back on, it will become clear that there were only two kinds of people: Those who stood against Trump’s corruption, cruelty and degradation of American values, and those who enabled him.

The resignation of Zinke and the re-election of Sen. Jon Tester gives us hope. Other elected officials Montana has sent to Washington, D.C., and who have enabled Trump, need to go. This can be accomplished in 2020.

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

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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