Our Google news alerts for "Idaho" went bonkers last week with a fury that hasn't been seen since President Bush visited Nampa. Heck, there were nearly as many hits as when news of Erotic City's "Art Night" got picked up the international media (but not quite as many). And the cause of the spike was our very own Dirk Kempthorne, who has finally combed and cooed his way out of Boise and into the Presidential cabinet. Among the national media editorials, the consensus on Kempthorne's nomination is a resounding and predictable, "Meh." They say he's a nice guy, and he rides a cool motorcycle, but his track record of anti-roadless area, anti-ESA and pro-development actions stick out like a mine site in a wilderness area.
But it seems clear that whatever any pundit thinks about it, Kempthorne is going away. So rather than re-hash other people's coverage of why this appointment will prove so dire and destructive, we're providing a quick list of reminders why we won't miss "Veto Boy" for long.
1. He bounces checks to buy hair-replacement products (BW, The Governor Feels a Draft ... an Overdraft," May 18, 2005). Kempthorne's Mr. Burns-esque 'do, which has been complimented in several stories on his appointment, is as chemically enhanced as Barry Bonds' glutes. The second best part about this story: When reporting on it, Idaho Statesman bigwig (so to speak) Dan Popkey admitted to being a scalp-juicer himself. Ha!
2. To boost Idaho's tater industry, Kempthorne lobbied to block French Fries from being on a list of foods containing the cancer-causing agent and chemical acrylamide ... even though French fries do contain acrylamide (BW, News, "Fries: The Other Cancer Sticks," May 25, 2006). Nice thought, Mr. Secretary.
3. Kempthorne signed parental consent abortion bills into law three times, and each time, a court has ruled the laws to be unconstitutional (BW, News, "New Parental Consent Law Leads to Same Old Battle," April 20, 2005). Doesn't he read legislation before signing it? Oh wait, as we clearly saw last year when he vetoed eight bills sight unseen as revenge for not getting his pet highway bill passed ... he doesn't.
4. He's been such a supporter of opening up roadless areas to logging and development, he even had Department of Agriculture Secretary Anne Veneman announce the Bush administration's roadless invasion plan on the Idaho Statehouse steps (BW, News, Chainsaw-in-Chief hands over Idaho's Hinterlands to his sidekick, Veto Boy," May 11, 2005). At least now we'll only have to watch spectacles like that on TV.
5. After going massively into debt to defeat Jerry Brady in the 2002 governor's race, Kempthorne kept raising money--even though he wasn't planning on running again (BW, News, "Behold: Dirk's Corporate Cash Teat," August 10, 2005). After using a loophole to soak up over $60,000 in contributions from mom-and-pop outfits like Albertson's, Tamarack Resort, Washington Group and several lumber companies, Kempthorne used the funds to pay for stuff like hotel bills, dinners and haircuts--which is code for hair 'roids, we assume.
These are hardly the top five, but they're the top five from the last year. And as an interesting side-note, our "Don't let the door hitcha" sentiment was echoed--kinda-- by First Lady Patricia Kempthorne, who told both KTVB Channel 7 and the Idaho Statesman that she has no intention of following her husband over to Washington, D.C. Here's what she told Statesman reporter Dana Oland about the conversation where he broke the news of his appointment:
"The president said, 'I want you to do this,' and I said 'yes,'" she recalled him saying. "I just said, 'OK.'" Now that's a ringing endorsement!