Reacting to news that scandal-plagued Ryan Zinke is finally — mercifully – stepping down from his post as the head of the Interior Department under the cloud of multiple investigations, the editorial board of The New York Times rushed out a caustic farewell column rehashing his legal problems and mocking him as “not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”
The editorial began with taking a shot at both Zinke and President Donald Trump.
“Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the Interior Department, is the second devoted cheerleader for President Trump’s boneheaded strategy of ‘energy dominance’ to be ushered out the door,” they wrote — linking him to the equally scandal-plagued head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt who was also forced out.
“Despite serving less than two years, Mr. Zinke racked up an impressive number of ethics investigations. At last count, his leadership had spurred some 15 inquiries into a colorful array of purported misbehavior ranging from conflicts of interest to the misuse of taxpayer funds to violating the Hatch Act, which bars federal officials from using their position to influence elections,” they recalled, adding, “Of the half dozen investigations still ongoing, one has been referred to the Department of Justice for further exploration.”
As for the man himself, the NYT was left unimpressed.
“Mr. Zinke had a Western swagger to him that some found appealing, but on matters of public relations he was not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” the editorial continued. “When promoting various policies, he often referred to himself as a professional ‘geologist,’ when in fact he had received only a long-ago undergraduate degree in geology before joining the military.”
“On his first day in office, Mr. Zinke rode a horse to work, in plain imitation of Teddy Roosevelt. As president, Mr. Roosevelt protected 230 million acres of American wilderness, including 18 national monuments,” the piece stated. “Ten months into his tenure as Interior Secretary, Mr. Zinke recommended the withdrawal of some two million acres from two national monuments in Utah established by Mr. Obama and Bill Clinton, the largest shrinkage of public land protection in history.”
“He has not greatly improved on this record since,” they concluded.