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Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 12:16 am

Why in the world would Trump tap Perry to be energy secretary?

Jim Hightower
PHOTO BY LARRY D. MOORE
Perk up, people – for I bring you tidings of great joy: Gov. “Oops” is back! Yes, Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who specialized in putting the “goober” in gubernatorial, is being brought back from well-earned obscurity in rural Texas to join the menagerie of characters in “The Donald Show.”

Who can forget Perry’s classic “oops” moment during his first failed run for the White House? Campaigning as a far-out, right-wing slasher of government services, he boldly declared in a televised debate that – by gollies – he would eliminate three federal agencies entirely, dramatically reeling off the names of his three victims: The Department of Commerce, 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 once again that being even quasi-smart is not a requirement for getting a high political job – Perry has been hired by Trump to be our next Secretary of Energy. Yes, that is the very agency that was third on the Goober’s elimination list. He is actually being appointed to head the $32 billion department he couldn’t name during the 2012 presidential race.

Here’s another comic twist in Rick’s appointment. While briefly running for president again this go ‘round, Perry assailed Trump as a “barking carnival act.” And now he’s a tail-wagging dog in Donnie’s carnival.

Dubbed “Gov. Good Hair” by the late, great columnist Molly Ivins, Perry tumbled from his peak of being 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 having kissed the ring of president-elect Trump, Perry is now to be lifted from the lowly role of twinkle-toed TV hoofer to being in charge of our national government’s nuclear arsenal.

That’s a position that, in previous administrations, has required some scientific knowledge and experience, 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 corporate power 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, for example, he went to extraordinary lengths to let the giant Energy Transfer Partners run a pipeline through the ecologically-fragile, natural wonders of Big Bend – ramming it right down the throats of near-unanimous opposition of local people. Perry then accepted a little $6 million campaign donation – i.e., “payoff” – from the corporate boss, who also later put Perry on the pipeline corporation’s board of directors.

He also privatized a state-run, low-level nuclear waste facility, turning it over to Waste Control Specialists, owned by his largest campaign contributor. Then he let the corporation double 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.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist and author.

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