One of the stupidest plans that the extremely stupid Trump administration is currently carrying out is a dramatic shrinking of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Trump recently announced that he would cut the size of Bears Ears by 85 percent and halved the size of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument after a Canadian uranium drilling company mounted a concerted lobbying campaign. This push was helmed by Ryan Zinke, once the congressional representative from Montana and now Trump’s Secretary of the Interior. It was in that capacity that Zinke wrote an opinion piece for CNN and tried to spin the opening of public lands to foreign corporate interests as a win for the local Native American community.
This, you will not be surprised to know, is obvious bullshit (several tribes are suing to protect Bears Ears). Zinke, who was praised as the rare environmentally conscious Republican back in his congressional days, has taken the mask off since being appointed to the administration; he has enthusiastically endorsed easing the “burdensome regulations” on the oil industry interests that would like to get to extracting in our national parks, and his thoughts on climate change and selling public lands have, let’s say evolved, over the years. He and other Republican leaders are currently bickering with the outdoor apparel company Patagonia and trying to smear them for their attempt to protect public lands. Zinke went so far as to hold a conference call with reporters to talk shit about Patagonia, which he called a “special interest group.” Outside Magazine, which once endorsed his appointment to Secretary of the Interior, was barred from the call despite trying to join. The reason why is very petty.
Outside published a profile of Zinke on Dec. 4 that chronicled his shift from environmental “maverick” to “Trump’s Attack Dog on the Environment.” The (very good) profile ends with an anecdote about how Zinke is a fly fishing idiot:
As Zinke and I casted over the ice-cold water, I noticed something funny about his setup. He kept struggling to strip line out of the bottom of the reel. For a while, I thought he was simply having trouble concentrating on our conversation while casting. No, there was something wrong, and when I asked him to stand for a portrait, I finally saw what the problem was. He had rigged his reel backward, so that the line was coming out of the top of the reel. Every so often when he went to strip line out, he would grasp air where the line should’ve been.
Seems like an inconsequential thing, but in Montana, it’s everything.
In their post about Patagonia’s fight against Zinke, Outside explained why they weren’t allowed to join the conference call:
Outside was not on the call. Despite repeated efforts to join, one of our editors was blocked. The previous day, the magazine had published a critical profile of Zinke by Elliott Woods that illustrated, among other issues, the secretary’s struggles to properly rig a fly rod.
Zinke’s been catching hell from the Montana press over his thin skin. At least this will maybe motivate him to learn how to fish.