Al Gore: Trump should fire Scott Pruitt

Former Vice President Al Gore tells CNN's Van Jones that President Donald Trump should fire EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Posted: Apr 9, 2018 10:24 PM
Updated: Apr 9, 2018 10:37 PM

The federal government's top ethics official has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to take "appropriate actions to address any violations" rising from the behavior of the agency's administrator, Scott Pruitt.

These include a $50 a night room rental agreement with a lobbyist whose husband's firm lobbies the EPA, salary raises Pruitt gave to favored aides and other employees, frequent taxpayer-funded trips back home to Oklahoma — with security entourage -- and reports in The New York Times that Pruitt took punitive action against agency staff after they raised concerns about his actions.

The puzzle here is not how Scott Pruitt could attempt to get away with these things; it is why America's days are filled with dealing with "public servants" like Pruitt — and, of course, Donald Trump, for that matter. They are cheaters, self-dealers, corner-cutters, and liars for personal or professional gain. Why does our political system fail so badly to screen them out? Why, in short, does the swamp spread so relentlessly?

The answer, of course, is that the Pruitts, the Trumps (and the Tom Prices and on and on) are people who serve interests far more powerful and nefarious than they are. Big money has taken over the political system, and hired people like Pruitt to run it on their behalf.

And the big money will triumph as long as the young, the poor, and working class do not register and vote in far greater numbers. That is why our democracy depends so urgently on voters — in the upcoming elections and again in 2020 -- beating back the billionaires who manipulate our politics for their own gain.

The current state of our politics would be risible if the stakes were not so terrifyingly high. Pruitt has made a career of trying to gut any and all environmental protection. Trump is an unprincipled hothead real estate developer and reality TV persona who lost all access to serious capital long ago and so has largely relied on foreign money to keep afloat, as even his sons have reportedly affirmed.

Yet Pruitt is now in charge of dismantling every barrier between us and environmental ruin, and Trump has the nuclear codes that could end life on the planet.

They both work for larger financial interests. Our country today, and indeed much of the world, is run by and for billionaires actively manipulating the political process. They have the means, power, influence and muscle to get their way.

Trump was elected with the backing of several, including Sheldon Adelson, Carl Icahn, Robert Mercer, John Paulson, T. Boone Pickens and Peter Thiel. And Trump has delivered for them, most importantly by signing into law last December a budget-busting $1.5 trillion tax cut that largely benefits the rich.

Scott Pruitt was backed for his post as EPA administrator by the titans of Big Oil, including billionaires David Koch and Charles Koch, and Pruitt's backer for years, Harold Hamm, chief executive of Continental Resources, an Oklahoma oil and gas company. In return, Pruitt has been systematically attempting to gut every regulatory limit on greenhouse gas emissions and leading the effort to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement (making the United Stats the only country out of 193 to declare the intention to withdraw).

As another sure sign of who has the real sway in this country, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chose to meet at last 10 billionaires on his recent whirlwind US trip: Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Mike Bloomberg, Stephen Schwarzman, Oprah Winfrey, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Peter Thiel, among others. If you don't have a net worth of at least a couple billion dollars, you shouldn't be surprised that you weren't on the crown prince's dance card.

Why do the wealthy hire the likes of Pruitt to do their bidding? The main reason is that only individuals lacking a moral compass will carry out the whims and anti-social policies of the plutocrats who seek to manipulate the political and regulatory systems to their will. Suppose you had to tell mega-lies every day, such as that global warming is untrue and that air pollution is not dangerous to public health. Anyone of talent or honesty would recoil from the job. Only an ambitious toady would accept such an ugly assignment.

David and Charles Koch ($60 billion net worth each, according to Forbes) effectively control the Republican Party. Republican incumbents have the choice to take money from the extended Koch network or to face a primary opponent funded by the Koch network.

The party begs financial largesse from the Koch brothers and parrots the idiocies of climate denial on their behalf -- despite record heatwaves, forest fires, hurricanes and this season's loopy winter weather, which scientists say is linked to an overheated Arctic. Money can't turn back the tides, but it can cause adults who know better to deny them.

The United States is not alone in this big-money corruption but perhaps has become its world leader. Democracy around the world is being undermined not by a working-class backlash or resurgent nationalism but by money, a lot of it. With the world's politics awash in money, several world leaders are currently charged with corruption, most recently France's Nicolas Sarkozy, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, and South Africa's Jacob Zuma, with two more recently convicted: Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and South Korea's Park Geun-Hye.

In 2010, the Supreme Court, in its ineffable wisdom, declared that corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections — that their contributions were free speech and thus beyond limitation. What could possibly go wrong?

Even now, all is not lost. The rich may have the money but the people still have the votes. Yet time is short. November is our best hope to reclaim our democracy from the likes of Pruitt and Trump.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 125531

Reported Deaths: 2299
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin32544966
Ramsey13430347
Dakota9321134
Anoka8154148
Stearns544336
Washington530567
Scott320934
Olmsted308929
St. Louis268963
Wright229614
Nobles216416
Clay207343
Blue Earth19717
Carver17077
Rice15819
Kandiyohi15704
Sherburne156621
Mower149113
Winona119918
Lyon9286
Crow Wing91521
Waseca9119
Chisago8792
Benton8575
Beltrami7977
Otter Tail7726
Todd7323
Steele7242
Itasca68417
Nicollet68217
Freeborn6384
Morrison6296
Douglas6123
Martin58916
Le Sueur5855
McLeod5693
Watonwan5684
Goodhue51511
Pine5110
Becker5033
Polk5024
Isanti4953
Chippewa3973
Carlton3861
Dodge3660
Mille Lacs36010
Hubbard3352
Pipestone32816
Wabasha3270
Cass3205
Meeker3113
Rock3011
Brown3003
Yellow Medicine2675
Cottonwood2640
Murray2533
Redwood25011
Fillmore2380
Sibley2383
Renville23011
Faribault2130
Roseau1990
Jackson1981
Wadena1980
Unassigned19553
Swift1921
Kanabec18910
Houston1811
Stevens1681
Lincoln1670
Pennington1651
Koochiching1624
Aitkin1562
Pope1480
Big Stone1280
Wilkin1254
Lac qui Parle1242
Lake1050
Mahnomen971
Norman970
Grant904
Marshall881
Clearwater840
Red Lake592
Traverse530
Lake of the Woods421
Kittson270
Cook110

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 108620

Reported Deaths: 1562
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk18087283
Woodbury685392
Johnson566030
Black Hawk526596
Linn5114127
Dubuque476354
Scott410537
Story387418
Dallas331043
Pottawattamie299844
Sioux230414
Buena Vista220412
Marshall193736
Webster172814
Plymouth154426
Wapello147562
Clinton136926
Muscatine136158
Crawford132112
Cerro Gordo126323
Des Moines12409
Warren11596
Carroll10388
Jasper103034
Henry9865
Marion93510
Tama90737
Lee8819
Wright6951
Delaware6898
Dickinson6877
Boone6819
Mahaska63723
Bremer6239
Washington61111
Harrison5868
Jackson5393
Benton5211
Lyon5177
Louisa49415
Clay4884
Hamilton4513
Winneshiek4479
Winnebago44517
Hardin4315
Poweshiek43011
Kossuth4280
Floyd41811
Jones4133
Buchanan4033
Emmet40214
Cedar3935
Iowa3848
Franklin37518
Guthrie37215
Sac3694
Cherokee3682
Page3620
Clayton3533
Shelby3511
Butler3472
Fayette3462
Madison3442
Cass3402
Mills3391
Allamakee3358
Chickasaw3271
Clarke3163
Humboldt2993
Palo Alto2912
Hancock2864
Grundy2834
Calhoun2724
Howard2519
Osceola2480
Monroe24511
Mitchell2360
Monona2311
Taylor2252
Union2164
Pocahontas2112
Appanoose2063
Jefferson2031
Lucas1896
Fremont1821
Ida1792
Greene1740
Van Buren1622
Davis1584
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