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Scott Pruitt Goes To Congress, Belches Out Smog
Man that is a rough 49.
EPA chief Scott Pruitt went to Capitol Hill Thursday for some might-as-well-get-it-over-with House hearings, and wow, does that man have a talent for bullshit. The hearings were ostensibly on the EPA's budget, but of course congresspeople had to go and ask him about all those other things, like his travel scandal, the $43,000 secure phone booth in his office, and his incredibly expensive 20-person security detail, not to mention his charming efforts to dismantle the agency he heads and silence EPA employees who get too mouthy about the existence of climate change. Did we say "congresspeople"? We meant Democrats, as Republicans mostly spent their question time asking why Democrats were being so rude as to bring up all these tiny matters about which no one cares. A few highlights:
Raises? What Raises? Oh, THOSE Raises!
Pruitt went back on what he'd said in that infamous Fox News interview with Ed Henry, where he'd claimed not to know anything about big raises given to EPA staffers (under the guise of a Clean Water Act provision that's meant to help hire scientists during a water crisis, but hey, it allows instant raises, right?). This time around, he explained -- with much circumlocution -- to Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko of New York that, sure, he asked a staffer to award the raises, but he had no idea what the amounts of the raises were.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 26, 2018
Tonko wasn't especially impressed by Pruitt's insistence that he was out of the loop on the raises for his two good friends from Oklahoma: "Well then, I'm concerned that you have no idea what is going on in your name at your agency."
How The Hell Did This $43,000 Cone Of Silence Get Installed In My Office?
Pruitt seemed similarly perplexed by the sudden appearance -- after extensive renovations, such as pouring an entirely new concrete floor -- of a secure phone booth in what had been a storage closet off his office.
WATCH: EPA Chief Scott Pruitt blames his staff for the decision to put a $43,000 phone booth in his office.
"I was not involved in the approval of $43,000 and if I'd known about it ... I would have refused it." pic.twitter.com/8hhcUMLJtW
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 26, 2018
California Democrat Tony Cardenas was just wondering how all that came about, and Pruitt seemed mystified by the way money just got up and did things when he said words:
I did have a phone call that came in, of a sensitive nature, and I did not have access to secure communications. I gave direction to my staff to address that, and out of that came a $43,000 expenditure that I did not approve.
Oh? So you're not really one of those "the buck stops here" kind of leaders, then, are ya?
Career individuals at the agency took that process through and signed off on it all the way through. I was not involved in the approval of the $43,000, and if I had known about it, Congressman, I would have refused it.
SO NOBLE. At least we got one very important detail cleared up: The Cone Of Silence cost an assload of money, but it's not actually certified as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), so stop calling it that, you.
I Get Around
How about all that first-class travel? Any regrets there?
Representative Anna G. Eshoo, a California Democrat, had scathing criticism for Mr. Pruitt when her turn for questioning came Thursday morning. “You have a solid record of violating ethics rules from the state level to the federal government,” she told him. “I think it’s an embarrassment.”
Then she asked: “Do you have any remorse? Yes or no?”
Mr. Pruitt responded: “I think there are changes I’ve made already. I’ve made a change from first class to coach travel.”
Ms. Eshoo returned to her call for a yes-or-no answer, and asked Mr. Pruitt whether he would reimburse the government. He launched into a long response, but she cut him off.
“With all due respect, I may be elected, but I’m not a fool,” she said. “This is not ‘dodge-question’ day.”
If only the representative from California had demonstrated her refusal to let Pruitt dodge by whipping off her sensible flats and flinging them at the Administrator's noggin, Iraq style, only for him to dodge them, George Dubya style, and then sneeze in surprise. Then we could write the headline "Pruitt Eschews Eshoo's Shoes, Achoos."
Danger, Scott Pruittson! Danger!
Pruitt explained he had to fly first class, for security, because you know how people in coach just assassinate people alla time:
Pruitt says the threats against him have been “unprecedented” (in both number and type) compared to other administrators https: //t.co/KnVElPlaYc
— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) April 26, 2018
Also, two people threatened him on Facebook (fine, one merely wished him a slow agonizing death), so he gets a 20-member security team to protect him at all times:
Scott Pruitt reads two of the death threats he says he has received over Facebook https: //t.co/XokKqDqv0p
— Brian Ries (@moneyries) April 26, 2018
Once again, we can only emphasize how much better Facebook would be if it adopted Wonkette's commenting policy or just went away forever. Also, that's another good reason not to write comments wishing death or violence on people: Some asshole will use it as an excuse to fly first class.
We Love You Mr. Flyboy!
Pruitt had his defenders, too, like Texas Republican Joe "How Did Gas And Oil Get Under The Arctic Ocean, Mr. Smart Guy?" Barton, who defended his fellow climate change denier with a classic strategy, the old "Unethical behavior isn't actually illegal so it's really quite ethical indeed" ploy:
“You’re not the first person to be the victim, for lack of a better term, of Washington politics,” Barton told him. Referring to the fact that the administrator frequently traveled in first class during his first year at EPA, Barton inquired, “Is it illegal to fly first class?”
Pruitt said that those tickets had been approved by the agency’s travel and security offices, prompting Barton to reply, “But it’s not illegal. It may look bad, but it’s not illegal.”
Other Republicans couldn't resist the call to defend the noble regulation-cutter who finally Made America Polluted again. Rep. David McKinley called the Democrats' questions a "a classic display of innuendo and McCarthyism," which suggests he has no idea what innuendo is, what with the accusations of waste and friendliness toward industry being pretty specific. North Dakota's Rep. Kevin Cramer got right to the biggest scandal of all: None of Pruitt's so-called excesses matter at all, because
The greatest sin you’ve committed, if any, is you’ve actually done what President Trump ran on, won on and what he’s commissioned you to do.
Then Pruitt and his Republican supporters all went to their favorite DC eatery for a nice meal of spotted owl and polar bear.
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