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Bush Residue

Jeez. Looks like it's going to take a Brill-O pad and a round of antibiotics to rid ourselves of the Bushies: "Administration Moves to Protect Key Appointees: Political Positions Shifted To Career Civil Service Jobs."

Here's hoping the Obama team finds a way to blunt the influence of some of these holdovers, including these two jewels spotlighted by the WaPo:

Robert D. Comer, who was Rocky Mountain regional solicitor, was named to the civil service post of associate solicitor for mineral resources. Matthew McKeown, who served as deputy associate solicitor for mineral resources, will take Comer's place in what is also a career post. Both had been converted from political appointees to civil service status

In a report dated Oct. 13, 2004, Interior's inspector general singled out Comer in criticizing a grazing agreement that the Bureau of Land Management had struck with a Wyoming rancher, saying Comer used "pressure and intimidation" to produce the settlement and pushed it through "with total disregard for the concerns raised by career field personnel." McKeown -- who as Idaho's deputy attorney general had sued to overturn a Clinton administration rule barring road-building in certain national forests -- has been criticized by environmentalists for promoting the cause of private property owners over the public interest on issues such as grazing and logging.

One career Interior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize his position, said McKeown will "have a huge impact on a broad swath of the West" in his new position, advising the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service on "all the programs they implement." Comer, the official added, will help shape mining policy in his new assignment.

"It is an attempt by the outgoing administration to limit as much as possible [the incoming administration's] ability to put its policy imprint on the Department of Interior," the official said.

And, no, the fact that other outgoing presidents, including Bill Clinton, used this trick of switching appointees into career civil-service jobs does not make this practice any less obnoxious. Honestly, were any of us impressed by the manner in which Clinton left office?

--Michelle Cottle