The cushy Tamarack vacation last August, the stays in the Lincoln Bedroom ... all these months (years?) of schmoozing the prez have finally paid off for Dirk Kempthorne, who is now on track to become the second Idaho governor in the last three decades to win the Secretary of the Interior job. (The first, of course, was Cecil Andrus.)
In making the announcement just now, W signaled that he expects Kempthorne will preside over the "wise stewardship" of federal lands. That's code for "you can pretty much let the oil, natural gas, timber, and mining interests do whatever the hell they want ... oh, and let's see if we can sell off some of those 'surplus 'public lands to help pay for the bridge-to-nowhere in Alaska."
Kempthorne does have a soft heart for the outdoors. This legislative session, his signature suggestion was a big plan to improve state parks. But he hasn't come out against the sale of public lands - a hugely unpopular idea in Idaho, and one he'll be forced to face in his new job. And he has a mess to clean up with the nation's Native Americans, who have suffered greatly during the Bush-Norton years via the good works of Jack Abramoff.
Dirk's selection also has to have Idaho Lt. Gov. Jim Risch thinking twice about his decision not to seek the top job, now that he could run as an incumbent. He could still change his mind since tomorrow is Idaho's filing deadline. Stay tuned ...