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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

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 26273

Reported Deaths: 1126
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8867641
Ramsey3252140
Stearns205014
Nobles15625
Anoka148878
Dakota141464
Washington68034
Olmsted67211
Kandiyohi5111
Rice4833
Scott4602
Clay44129
Mower4062
Wright3392
Todd3361
Sherburne2482
Carver2322
Benton1823
Steele1670
Blue Earth1480
Freeborn1420
Martin1325
St. Louis11814
Pine930
Nicollet8811
Lyon811
Winona8015
Cottonwood790
Watonwan780
Crow Wing774
Unassigned7511
Carlton750
Otter Tail730
Goodhue715
Chisago641
Polk612
Itasca5610
Dodge530
Chippewa521
Morrison480
Le Sueur461
Meeker460
Douglas450
Becker430
Jackson420
Murray400
McLeod390
Isanti360
Waseca270
Pennington230
Rock230
Mille Lacs231
Faribault200
Swift190
Beltrami180
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Brown162
Norman150
Pipestone120
Marshall120
Kanabec121
Wilkin113
Cass112
Aitkin110
Wadena100
Pope100
Koochiching90
Big Stone80
Redwood70
Renville70
Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Yellow Medicine60
Grant40
Traverse40
Red Lake40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Roseau30
Hubbard30
Houston20
Kittson10
Lake10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20767

Reported Deaths: 583
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4541137
Woodbury283737
Black Hawk177548
Buena Vista9971
Linn97179
Dallas94025
Marshall91218
Wapello62814
Johnson6189
Muscatine56541
Crawford5472
Tama41029
Scott38010
Dubuque35521
Louisa34911
Pottawattamie31110
Sioux2980
Jasper26917
Wright2120
Washington1958
Warren1661
Plymouth1462
Story1261
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9912
Poweshiek928
Henry722
Bremer706
Boone700
Des Moines671
Clarke660
Clinton651
Taylor640
Webster621
Hamilton610
Guthrie543
Cedar491
Benton431
Monroe415
Shelby370
Cherokee370
Jones370
Jefferson350
Marion350
Osceola340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
Iowa330
Dickinson330
Buchanan330
Madison292
Lee290
Fayette280
Sac280
Davis280
Harrison260
Monona250
Clay250
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Emmet240
Lucas222
Hardin210
Grundy200
Mills200
Delaware191
Humboldt191
Floyd191
Franklin170
Appanoose173
Hancock160
Butler161
Ida150
Greene150
Pocahontas150
Page140
Kossuth140
Keokuk140
Audubon131
Jackson130
Carroll130
Chickasaw130
Howard120
Cass120
Winnebago110
Montgomery91
Adair90
Union90
Van Buren90
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Calhoun60
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Fremont40
Worth30
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned00
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