Alaska Rep. Don Young is never short on ideas to create dramatic effect. Remember when he brandished his 18-inch long walrus penis bone on the House floor and waved it at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chief, who happened to be a woman? Or the time that he called environmentalists a "self-centered bunch of waffle-stomping, Harvard-graduating, intellectual idiots" who "are not Americans, never have been Americans, never will be Americans?"
He was at it again Wednesday, not for what he was handling, or even what he was saying (his remarks were uncharacteristically solicitous), but for what was perched on his head while questioning Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about Obama administration's energy agenda.
At the House Natural Resources Committee, Young, drawing chuckles from the audience, said, "As you see in the hat I'm wearing, I'm in support of Obama's energy program." Indeed, affixed to the hat was a button with Obama's logo, bearing the words, "Obama's energy plan!" Atop the hat was a propeller. He was wearing it, he told Salazar, "because there is no energy program."
Young's office said that the hat came from a constituent, who is "concerned with the Obama Administration's energy policy in America, specifically how it relates to developing Alaska's vast oil and gas reserves."
Young, too, is concerned, as expressed today and countless times throughout the years. At the hearing, he asked Salzar—who he seems to respect—about the permitting process for drilling for oil and natural gas in the Arctic, and about drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. To the first, Salzar said that the administration is "moving forward with a robust energy program that includes oil and gas." As to the second, no go.
Salzar said that the administration's view is that drilling in ANWR is "not appropriate," something that Young seemed to take in stride, perhaps because he's heard as much from various administrations since, well, forever.
"When I become emperor," Young said. "I might consider you as Secretary of the Interior. But that probably won't happen for awhile. You have to understand that."
Contact Amanda Coyne at amanda(at)alaskadispatch.com