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D.C. Notebook: Interior secretary talks bear poop in speech

Published November 3, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell spoke at the National Press Club last week and pointed out that the "best question ever" to her came from The Salt Lake Tribune. In an editorial board meeting, Jewell said a journalist from the newspaper noted that he was hiking in the Grand Teton National Park and saw warnings to be on the lookout for bears.

He said, Jewell recounted, "'I was hiking and saw something on the trail that really made me really nervous so I turned around and went back to my car. I want to know if I really needed to go back to my car,' so he held up his phone with this picture and said, 'Is this bear poop?' And the good thing is, I actually knew the answer. And the answer was, 'No. You could have kept on your hike.' I mean there may have been bears, but they weren't pooping there on the trail."

Jewell said the poop in question came from a large mammal but was clearly not from a bear, who we're guessing may have been doing his business in the woods.

An almost no vote • Sen. Orrin Hatch helped Republicans block a nominee for the prestigious D.C. Circuit Court last week, using his signature move that drives liberal groups nuts.

He voted "present." Not yes, not no, present.

That's because Hatch says he opposes using procedural moves, like a filibuster, to block judicial nominees.

But voting present has the same effect as voting no, since it takes 60 votes to move a nominee forward, notes Miranda Blue with the People for the American Way.

Nominee Pattie Millett only got 56 votes.

The People for the American Way has tracked Hatch's votes and noted with frustration that 20 percent of the time Utah's senior senator votes present on attempts to stop a filibuster on a judicial nominee.

They better get used to it, because Hatch has said he will block any attempt by President Barack Obama to add someone to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, largely seen as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court.

"I cannot support any of these nominees because no one, no matter who they are and no matter what their qualifications, should be appointed to this court at this time," Hatch said.

But he won't actually vote against them. He'll vote present.

A great kindness • At a Senate Judiciary meeting where the two parties fought over judicial nominees, Chairman Patrick Leahy interrupted the action to point out Hatch's new black-rimmed glasses, which led to this exchange.

Hatch: "I just wish I could see better with them, that's all I can say."

Leahy: "We just want to note for the record that it makes you look good."

Hatch: "I appreciate that. That is one of the great kindnesses you have shown me lately."

Leahy: "Last one for awhile."

Kudos for Hatch • Former New Jersey Sen. Jeff Chiesa, a Republican, spent five months filling in before the state elected Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, but Chiesa came to love the upper chamber and specifically one senator from Utah.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer Chiesa called Hatch "an inspiring figure" who was "extraordinarily generous" with his help during Chiesa's short time. We're sure Hatch appreciated it.

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Burr and Canham report from Washington, D.C. They can be reached at tburr@sltrib.com or at mcanham@sltrib.com or via Twitter @thomaswburr or @mattcanham.