By Parker Heinlein as published on the Bozeman Daily Chronicle
“Zinke has apparently been tasked with dismantling every environmental safeguard he can…”
When Ryan Zinke was appointed Secretary of the Interior, I had no idea he was such a poser.
It bothered me a bit that he seemed to spend more time at his house in California than at his residence in Montana, but he was a decorated warrior and claimed to be a conservationist in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt.
I thought he might do a good job.
Then he showed up on horseback wearing a cowboy hat for his first day of work and I thought, hmmm, maybe not. This dude could be all hat.
I was right.
Instead of channeling Teddy Roosevelt, Zinke appears to be channeling another westerner, James Watt, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior, who was known as an anti-environmentalist.
Zinke has apparently been tasked with dismantling every environmental safeguard he can, from reducing the size of national monuments to removing regulations on grazing land that protect sage grouse.
At least James Watt never claimed to be something he wasn’t.
Zinke would have us believe he’s a sportsman and actually cares about the land when it’s obvious he doesn’t. He’s simply a do-what-he’s-told kind of guy.
Zinke replaced Sarah Palin as the belle of the pro-development ball, dressed up like a little kid playing cowboy, his mantra little different than her shrill cry of “Drill, baby drill.”
Except he carries it off with a lot more pomp and circumstance. When Zinke is in his office — decorated with stuffed animals he didn’t kill on the walls — a flag is raised by a staffer. When he leaves, the flag is taken down.
Zinke also had a personalized coin minted to hand out to visitors. Secretaries of the Interior have had coins before, but never bearing their names.
I guess he didn’t want anyone to wonder who that clown in the cowboy hat is.
I wanted to think that a Montanan would do good things, would leave a legacy to be proud of, but Zinke is just paving the way to a high-paying lobbying job when his time as secretary comes to an end.
He’s kidding himself if he thinks in any way he embodies Teddy Roosevelt, an independent spirit and passionate hunter if there ever was one.
Zinke is a willing puppet of an administration that likes to dress him up like a cowboy and watch him dance.
He’s fine pretending he’s something he isn’t and seems to be fine with what he is — an embarrassment to Montana.
Oh, well. It won’t be long and he can move back to California.