I was a Jeopardy contestant once. Lost by a dollar to a belly dancer.  Won a trip to Switzerland, where a good time was had by all.  (So glad they didn't give me a dining room set!)  Jeopardy's that TV game where they give you the answer, and you have to come up with the question.  Sometimes they're silly: Seven (What's the number that's one more than six?)  And the terminology's a little confusing, because the answer is the question.  Or is the question the answer?

Anyhow, here's the clue:  His lips are moving
The question/answer:  How can you tell when Richard Pombo (R, CA-11) is lying about the Endangered Species Act?

Follow below the fold for more info, link to a poll to freep, some pretty & unpretty pictures, and a tasty bit from Molly Ivins.

Cross-posted to ePluribusMedia

Pombo's worked so hard, for so long, to disembowel the Endangered Species Act (ESA), it's hard to distill it down to article size.  So, I'm leaving most of the story out.  What else could be done?  Here's a few bits:

As I reported the other day, Richard Pombo's raised unprecedented amounts of money for this year's campaign.  He's got more than all his opponents combined, yet he's still vigorously collecting more, on the grounds that the (all powerful?  and evil?) environmental extremists are against him.  The Cheney appearance in Stockton on May 22 raised as much money as Pombo spent on his entire campaign when he was first elected in 1992.  His media consultant/spokesman, Wayne Johnson, has started spending the money. They've released an ad in which Pombo makes fantasical claims and accusations about the California Gnatcatcher, a tiny little creature, listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Bogus claims from the ad:

  • Most of the land at the Marine's Camp Pendleton was closed to training and operations as part of the bird's recovery plan  
  • The truth?  Under the Endangered Species Act, they were supposed to consult with F&W about management practices, that might have included refraining from artillery practice in those areas during nesting season
  • This caused, or was going to cause, the death of our Marines, our boys.  
  • Don't ask me to explain how; perhaps because they couldn't receive their combat training?  I'm guessing, here, as the ad doesn't say
  • Pombo saved the day.
  • Vaguely true.  Pombo - a passionate believer in anything that weakens the ESA - did put up a bill that exempted military operations from endangered species review.

BUT GET THIS: USFWS had already exempted Camp Pendleton from ESA requirements three years earlier.  So Pombo's bill, aiming as it did to chip away at the ESA, had zero effect in this case.

Like I said above: Whenever his lips move...

You can check out the commercial itself, and Sacramento TV station KRCA's analysis of its content.  Worth checking out just to freep their poll.  Last I checked, it had 134 votes with 70% giving it an A for truthfulness, even though the station rated it a C-minus.  The correct answer is F.  Credit to Pete McCloskey, Pombo's quixotic challenger for the GOP primary next week, for the link.  McCloskey's a reminder that the Republican Party was not always as awful as what we see today.  Other links on Pombo's various failings are worth following from McCloskey's website.  (McCloskey, a former Republican member of Congress, is challenging Pombo in next week's Republican primary in California.)

The really sick part of this ad is that Pombo's voted for a variety of legislative cutbacks for veterans.  Even as he shows up to pin on the occasional medal, or raises a loud fuss about symbolic issues.

I can't begin to understand Pombo's obsession with deep-sixing the ESA, but he's been at it relentlessly for well over a decade.  Can't possibly write up a blow-by-blow  (especially in a diary that's too long anyhow).  For the short version, freep the poll, then scroll down to the end for the classic and classy Molly Ivins bit.

From an article by Counterpunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair:

Pombo has told various stories about the event that prompted him to run for Congress. For years he claimed that he was enraged by plans to turn an abandoned railroad near his family ranch into a bicycle trail which -- he fumed -- would lead to the entire valley being designated a "viewshed" where development would be restricted. Later, Pombo said he ran for office because the family ranch had been designated "critical habitat" for the San Joaquin kit fox, the world's smallest wild canid and an endangered species.

  San Joaquin Kit Fox (endangered)

Both stories are embellished to the point of fantasy. Pombo's ranch was never at risk from either action. The allegation about the kit fox driving his family from their homestead is particularly outlandish, since the feds have never designated critical habitat for the tiny vulpine. Real ranchers look kindly on the kit fox, since it feeds almost exclusively on rodents regarded as crop pests.

Of course, if you're in the land brokering business like the Pombo family is, it's a different story entirely.  Chopping up open country into housing developments is a lot more damaging to habitat than is ranching.  Or, for that matter, the dropping of bombs, considering that Camp Pendleton has some of the best remaining habitat for a variety of endangered coastal species.  Again, keep in mind that the feds have NEVER designated critical habitat for the San Joaquin kit fox. (something we should probably fault the Clinton/Gore Administraiton for).

More from Pombo on the ESA:
He described the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park (where he's an ironclad advocate for snowmobile access) as "political paganism".  Pombo may be a darling of the Wise Use movement, but for real wisdom on wolves, try Aldo Leopold's Thinking Like a Mountain, one of the best short essays ever written.

    Grey Wolf (endangered)

A deep chesty bawl echoes from rimrock to rimrock, rolls down the mountain, and fades into the far blackness of the night. It is an outburst of wild defiant sorrow, and of contempt for all the adversities of the world. Every living thing (and perhaps many a dead one as well) pays heed to that call. To the deer it is a reminder of the way of all flesh, to the pine a forecast of midnight scuffles and of blood upon the snow, to the coyote a promise of gleanings to come, to the cowman a threat of red ink at the bank, to the hunter a challenge of fang against bullet. Yet behind these obvious and immediate hopes and fears there lies a deeper meaning, known only to the mountain itself. Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf.
I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps better the cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades.  So also the cows. The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf's job of trimming the herd to fit the range. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.

For five years, Pombo was founding Chairman of the Sustainable Use Parliamentarians Union, a major project of the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources and a poor excuse for greenwashing.  The IFCNR was founded by one Steve Boynton, a guy who likes Cheney-style hunting (except, so far as I know, the part about shooting your friends).  Back in the 90s, Boynton was an attorney for the American Spectator Magazine, and in that capacity the chief money conduit for Richard Mellon Scaife's notorious Arkansas Project, which ultimately succeeded in getting President Clinton impeached, but not removed from office.  SUPU guys take junkets around the globe (Pombo apparently ran afoul of the IRS for failing to report the travel) and make pronouncements calling for the reinstatement of commercial whaling, and for trade in endangered species parts, and for bioengineering, and so on.  

   Humpback Whale (commercial hunting banned by international treaty)

There's all the respect Pombo has for his party's official mascot/symbol!

   "Poached" Elephant (trade in ivory banned by international treaty)

Pete McCloskey was co-author of the ESA, and takes Pombo's efforts to destroy it personally.  I take Pombo personally, too, for reasons of my own.  (And so should you.)  I have not taken sides in the Democratic primary in CA-11, and will do whatever I can to support whichever candidate emerges victorious from next Tuesday's primary.  In the meantime, the more "blood" McCloskey can draw, the better.

   Peregrine Falcon (ESA success story: recently delisted)

This comes from the inimitable Molly Ivins, a woman of great wit and insight.  It represents one little piece of a speech delivered coincidentally in Richard Pombo's back yard: before the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce (January 2005):

Our governor is called "Good Hair Perry." That is a head of hair that every Texan can be proud of regardless of party... [Laughter] ...  Uh, let's see, it was two summers ago, the governor needed to appoint someone else to...the Public Utilities Commission, and as y'all know from certain misadventures in this state, this can turn out to be a very important job.  And so he chose for this purpose a former Enron executive... [Laughter] ...and the next day, the very next day, after announcing the appointment, he got a $25,000 check from Ken Lay.  Those with suspicious minds felt there might be a connection.  The governor was actually forced to hold a press conference in which he announced that it was "totally coincidental."  So we all said, "Oh good. Totally coincidental.  Good.  That takes care of that."
[E]ven in Texas, if you're going to make a major state appointment like that the person has to fill out all these forms about the money and the background and all that and that becomes part of the public record...  And we, the alert guardian watchdogs of democracy in the press room... [Laugher.] ...started looking at the forms and somebody said, You think 17 looks funny Sam? And Sam said, I don't know. You think 17 looks funny George?  Well, we all thought 17 looked funny.  Seventeen is the question on the form that inquires whether you have had any unpleasant experiences with law enforcement agencies. The governor's office had whited out the answers under 17. Now this was a very sophisticated cover up... [Laughter] ...  But, nevertheless, we were on the trail and in no time flat we discovered that the guy had a couple of minor traffic violations and, a couple of years earlier, in fact the year earlier, he was out hunting and he accidentally shot a whooping crane and then he accidentally buried the whooping crane... [Laughter]

...I'm not making this up... [Laughter]

   Whooping Cranes (still less than 300, not counting this year's chicks)

...and as a result, he had to pay a $15,000 dollar fine under what, in Texas, we call the Endangered Species Act, and we all thought that was pretty stiff.  And we reported this in the papers and, of course, Texas is a state full of hunters. Now we got a bunch of Texans saying, Well, hell. Anybody can accidentally hit a whooper, you know... [Laughter] ...not going to get excited about a deal like that.

Well, but we stayed on the case and we able to report that he accidentally shot the crane while on a duck hunt.

Now...your whooper is a large bird. Your whooper runs to about five feet tall. Your duck... [Laughter] ...

Now we got a whole state full of hunters saying, You know, if this sum-bitch too dumb to tell a duck from a whooper, he shouldn't be running public utilities.  And the guy had to withdraw.


Originally posted to Land of Enchantment on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 03:27 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.