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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 11:22 PM
Updated: Apr 9, 2018 11:37 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1097128

Reported Deaths: 17438
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1437882222
Lake712531225
Allen65537867
Hamilton50147482
St. Joseph48760639
Elkhart39461538
Vanderburgh34221495
Tippecanoe30237271
Johnson27179463
Hendricks25845379
Porter25014381
Madison20656444
Clark19898275
Vigo18764308
LaPorte16857260
Delaware16425291
Howard16408311
Monroe16379217
Kosciusko13936163
Hancock12841185
Bartholomew12686188
Warrick11995189
Wayne11879265
Floyd11869225
Grant11701235
Morgan10252188
Boone9675120
Noble9069121
Henry9002165
Marshall8907146
Dearborn881799
Dubois8710139
Shelby8054128
Cass8014127
Lawrence7922182
DeKalb7591106
Huntington7448108
Jackson743893
Gibson7002118
Montgomery6910123
Harrison685296
Knox6827113
Steuben654186
Miami6477107
Whitley642260
Putnam631982
Clinton618976
Wabash6060108
Jasper601791
Jefferson5689103
Ripley549192
Adams532381
Daviess5003116
Scott480378
Wells471799
White468767
Greene461799
Clay457462
Decatur4529109
Jennings439666
Fayette435694
LaGrange419290
Posey403244
Washington384154
Randolph3818107
Fountain368362
Spencer355846
Fulton355572
Starke348772
Owen346276
Sullivan344954
Orange324470
Jay318650
Rush298332
Carroll289438
Franklin286744
Perry283253
Vermillion280458
Tipton247365
Parke246330
Pike244144
Blackford218044
Pulaski205658
Newton179052
Brown171850
Crawford167929
Benton163217
Martin150819
Switzerland145112
Warren132216
Union117816
Ohio91413
Unassigned0585

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1683472

Reported Deaths: 26483
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1766331826
Cuyahoga1641462636
Hamilton1122641528
Montgomery794721387
Summit702171199
Lucas618431017
Butler55878803
Stark525841170
Lorain41058639
Warren35404412
Mahoning35095769
Lake31445493
Clermont30711362
Delaware26682182
Trumbull26664611
Licking26200335
Medina25291351
Fairfield24173287
Greene24051369
Clark21653387
Portage20709280
Richland20587336
Wood19626246
Allen18542320
Miami17031348
Columbiana16502331
Muskingum16416206
Wayne15432304
Tuscarawas14086357
Marion13054194
Erie12423198
Ashtabula12314225
Scioto12235182
Pickaway12070151
Ross11487223
Hancock11256173
Geauga10666174
Lawrence10504171
Belmont10259231
Huron9588155
Jefferson9462225
Union939175
Sandusky9068166
Seneca8692156
Knox8618169
Washington8613156
Athens827396
Darke8270179
Ashland7840147
Auglaize7741115
Shelby7337132
Defiance7210114
Crawford7082150
Brown7052115
Fulton7016111
Logan6857108
Mercer681697
Guernsey680283
Highland6615117
Madison641389
Clinton6388106
Williams628798
Preble6171139
Putnam6089120
Jackson572396
Champaign568286
Perry558879
Coshocton5552103
Ottawa553599
Morrow506464
Fayette483170
Hardin477899
Gallia462978
Pike459076
Van Wert454691
Adams4514109
Henry424976
Hocking401493
Holmes3939137
Wyandot367973
Carroll351578
Paulding319349
Meigs302457
Monroe231860
Noble216447
Morgan210138
Harrison205152
Vinton183937
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 36°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 34°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 35°
Decatur
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 36°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 38°
The warming trend is expected to continue through Thursday before cooler air returns to the Midwest.
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