Perk up people, for I bring you tidings of great joy: Governor “Oops” is back!
Yes, Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who specialized in putting the “goober” in gubernatorial, has emerged from well-earned obscurity in rural Texas to join the menagerie of characters in The Donald Show. For us lovers of low political comedy, Perry is literally a gift from on high—not from heaven but the dizzying heights of Trump Tower. That’s where the orange-haired Impresario-in-chief held tryouts for his Washington cast, before settling on Perry, the slapstick-perfect choice for his bizarre cabinet.
Who can forget Perry’s classic “oops moment” during his first failed run for the White House? Campaigning as a far-out, rightwing slasher of government services, he boldly declared in a televised debate that he would eliminate three federal agencies: The Department of Commerce, the Department of Education, and . . . and . . . and, alas, as a national TV audience watched in horror, Rick’s brain just could not recall the third federal department he planned to kill off.
He was roundly ridiculed as being dumber than a dust bunny. But now—proving that being even quasi-smart is not a requirement for getting a job in the Trump Administration—Perry has been hired to lead the very agency, the Department of Energy, that was third on his elimination list! He is now in charge of the $32 billion department he couldn’t name during the 2012 presidential race.
While briefly running for President again this go-round, Perry assailed Trump as a “cancer on conservatism” and a “barking carnival act.” Now he’s a tail-wagging dog in Donnie’s carnival.
Dubbed “Governor Goodhair” by the late, great columnist Molly Ivins, Perry tumbled from his peak as governor of Texas to being a twice-failed GOP presidential wannabe, then ended up as a reject on the television show for has-been celebrities, Dancing with the Stars.
But—resurrection!—having kissed the ring of President Trump, Perry is now lifted from the lowly role of twinkle-toed TV hoofer to being in charge of our nation’s nukes!
It’s a position that, in previous administrations, has required some scientific knowledge and experience; Perry’s immediate predecessor, Ernest Moniz, was a professor at MIT. But, as we’re quickly learning from The Donald’s other cabinet picks, the key qualification he seeks for public service is a nominee’s commitment to serving the private interests of corporations over workers, the environment, local communities, and everyone else.
That is why Perry—a devoted practitioner of crony capitalism and an ardent champion of oligarchs—has been rewarded with this position. As governor, he went to extraordinary lengths to let the giant Energy Transfer Partners run a pipeline through the ecologically fragile, natural wonders of Big Bend, ignoring the near-unanimous opposition of local people. Perry then accepted a $6 million super PAC donation—i.e., “payoff”—from the pipeline corporation’s boss, who also put Perry on its board of directors.
Perry also privatized a state-run, low-level nuclear waste facility, turning it over to Waste Control Specialists, owned by one of his largest campaign contributors. Then he let the corporation increase the amount of waste dumped there, while reducing its legal liability for damages. Then, taking even more cash from the owner, Perry pushed to let him put high-level nuclear waste in the dump.
Rick Perry has zero expertise or experience for the job he’s being handed, but he has beaucoup of both for the “job” he’s actually being empowered to do on the American people and our environment.