Got two other takes on the other Cheney stories: the first is that this reminded me of Lewis Black's claim, upon meeting Cheney, that "I've never stood that close to evil"; the second that Cheney exploits the ability to to control the "decider" by controlling his choices, a classic bureaucratic technique for controlling executives.
It's quite impressive, actually. He took the worst-defined job in the Constitution and has used it to hollow out and pervert everything that document stands for.
Tens of thousands of dead salmon; what could possibly be responsible for such a stink?
Yep, it's Part 4 of Becker and Gellman's "Richard Cheney is the most horrible bastard in these United States" series. Wonder why the Bush administration's environmental policy is so bad? Read on!
Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the 19th-ranking Interior Department official, arrived at her desk in Room 6140 a few months after Inauguration Day 2001. A phone message awaited her.At this point, this isn't even surprising. Tens of thousands of dead salmon sacrificed to keep a battleground state? Sure, utterly believable.
"This is Dick Cheney," said the man on her voice mail, Wooldridge recalled in an interview. "I understand you are the person handling this Klamath situation. Please call me at -- hmm, I guess I don't know my own number. I'm over at the White House."
Wooldridge wrote off the message as a prank. It was not. Cheney had reached far down the chain of command, on so unexpected a point of vice presidential concern, because he had spotted a political threat arriving on Wooldridge's desk.
In Oregon, a battleground state that the Bush-Cheney ticket had lost by less than half of 1 percent, drought-stricken farmers and ranchers were about to be cut off from the irrigation water that kept their cropland and pastures green. Federal biologists said the Endangered Species Act left the government no choice: The survival of two imperiled species of fish was at stake.
Law and science seemed to be on the side of the fish. Then the vice president stepped in.
First Cheney looked for a way around the law, aides said. Next he set in motion a process to challenge the science protecting the fish, according to a former Oregon congressman who lobbied for the farmers.
Because of Cheney's intervention, the government reversed itself and let the water flow in time to save the 2002 growing season, declaring that there was no threat to the fish. What followed was the largest fish kill the West had ever seen, with tens of thousands of salmon rotting on the banks of the Klamath River.
Characteristically, Cheney left no tracks.
The best part? The whole Salmon thing was done to benefit farmers, right? Except that it really, really hurt Salmon farmers, whose Chinook Salmon were a large part of the die-off. So arguing "but it was protecting farmers!" is a nonstarter. Thing is, it protected the right farmers. These farmers were largely Republicans; I doubt the Salmon farmers in coastal Oregon and Northern California were.
The Klamath case is one of many in which the vice president took on a decisive role to undercut long-standing environmental regulations for the benefit of business.Good on her to come forward, although it would have been nice if somebody, ANYBODY had stepped up and said "Dick Cheney is the corruption at the heart of the Bush administration, and no matter how much you like Bush, as long as this ass is connected to it nothing good is ever going to happen.
By combining unwavering ideological positions -- such as the priority of economic interests over protected fish -- with a deep practical knowledge of the federal bureaucracy, Cheney has made an indelible mark on the administration's approach to everything from air and water quality to the preservation of national parks and forests.
It was Cheney's insistence on easing air pollution controls, not the personal reasons she cited at the time, that led Christine Todd Whitman to resign as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, she said in an interview that provides the most detailed account so far of her departure.
And, once again, we see how he works.
When the vice president got wind of a petition to list the cutthroat trout in Yellowstone National Park as a protected species, his office turned to one of his former congressional aides.Cronies, cronies, cronies. He's got 'em everywhere, who are more loyal to him than they are to their departments or (I imagine) their president. That tendency to place horribly unqualified, counterproductive bastards in key spots that characterizes the Bush administration, so that environmental legislation is in actually a license to rape and pillage? Like everything else, it's the fault of what may well be the single biggest bastard to ever step foot in the White House.
The aide, Paul Hoffman, landed his job as deputy assistant interior secretary for fish and wildlife after Cheney recommended him. In an interview, Hoffman said the vice president knew that listing the cutthroat trout would harm the recreational fishing industry in his home state of Wyoming and that he "followed the issue closely." In 2001 and again in 2006, Hoffman's agency declined to list the trout as threatened.
Hoffman also was well positioned to help his former boss with what Cheney aides said was one of the vice president's pet peeves: the Clinton-era ban on snowmobiling in national parks. "He impressed upon us that so many people enjoyed snowmobiling in the Tetons," former Cheney aide Ron Christie said.
With Cheney's encouragement, the administration lifted the ban in 2002, and Hoffman followed up in 2005 by writing a proposal to fundamentally change the way national parks are managed. That plan, which would have emphasized recreational use over conservation, attracted so much opposition from park managers and the public that the Interior Department withdrew it. Still, the Bush administration continues to press for expanded snowmobile access, despite numerous studies showing that the vehicles harm the parks' environment and polls showing majority support for the ban.
Hoffman, now in another job at the Interior Department, said Cheney never told him what to do on either issue -- he didn't have to.
"His genius," Hoffman said, is that "he builds networks and puts the right people in the right places, and then trusts them to make well-informed decisions that comport with his overall vision."
And so we come to the end of the series, I guess. It's too bad. For the first time, the VERY first time, I think I understand how America and the world became what it did. Bush is always going on about the verdict of history and how it will exonerate him. I'm starting to think it will, because it will see him as a sock puppet for the true villian, who managed to run the country into the ground and ruin America's reputation abroad.
I don't think Bush needs impeaching anymore. If you want to do the most good, impeach Cheney.