Who the Hell Is Ryan Zinke, Trump's Pick for Secretary of the Interior?

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

On Thursday, Donald Trump officially nominated Ryan Zinke—Montana congressman, former Navy SEAL commander, and human thumb—as his pick for Secretary of the Interior.


Zinke is the fourth and final horseman of Trump’s environmental apocalypse. His political tenure has been marked by firm opposition to environmental policies, despite his alleged fandom of Theodore Roosevelt. Zinke joins Scott Pruitt, tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, a department he loathes; Rick Perry, nominated to head the Energy Department, which he promised to get rid of; and Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil and Trump’s pick for Secretary of State.

As Secretary of the Interior, Zinke would be responsible for managing the country’s federal land and resources. He’d also be in charge of the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management, among other agencies. If confirmed, he would wield the power to reverse many of the previous administration’s environmentally friendly policies, like blocking oil and gas drilling on public land.

Zinke received a 3 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, a pro-environmental advocacy group. He opposed the EPA’s Clean Water Rule and Clean Power Plan, and voted against myriad environmental protection proposals. He’s also a supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Though Mr. Zinke has expressed support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and opposes the sale of public lands, he has prioritized the development of oil, gas and other resources over the protection of clean water and air, and wildlife,” said Theresa Pierno, president of National Parks Conservation Association, told the New York Times. “Mr. Zinke has advocated for state control of energy development on federal lands, a move that threatens our national parks.” (Zinke, in a departure from the views of other conservatives like Ted Cruz, has advocated for state control of federal lands, which aligns with Trump.)

Zinke’s selection also appears to be a continuation of the tradition of climate change skepticism within the President-elect’s cabinet. In 2014, he denied that climate change was a hoax (phew!) but argued that it wasn’t “proven science either.” (What?)


Politics aside, Zinke is a big fan of hunting, which apparently got him in real good with Don Jr. Like his boss, Zinke is also a big Putin fanboy, and in a 2013 Facebook post, referred to the Russian president as “masterful.” And he once referred to Hillary Clinton as the anti-Christ.

Are we allowed to throw ourselves off this ride yet?



Ravenous Sophovore

As a Montanan, I want to apologize for this asshole.

He doesn’t really have any political beliefs so much as he has “beliefs” in whatever will get him elected. Prior to running for the House, he was pro-union, pro-environment, pro-choice, and pro-legalization of marijuana. Then he became the avatar of the Tea Party, with all his positions toeing the party line.

He has previously called for the impeachment of President Obama (for Benghazi, of course). And, as you mention, he has called Hillary Clinton the “anti-christ”.

Oh, and let’s not forget his extremely unethical and possibly illegal ties to the Special Operations for America super PAC. Which he then lied about. A lot.

He is the worst sort of liar and political opportunist. Exactly the “swamp” that Trump’s base wanted drained.

Good job draining that swamp, guys. I’d be happy you’re getting exactly what you voted for and were too stupid to see, but I and millions of others have to live here, too.