Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will leave the Trump administration by the end of the year, President Donald Trump announced Saturday. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

Facing 17 Ethics Investigations and a Subpoena From House Dems, Ryan Zinke Set to Resign by End of the Year

"Zinke's days of plundering our lands and enriching himself and his friends are over."

Julia Conley

After racking up 17 federal investigations into suspected ethics violations and facing likely questioning by a House panel over his conduct in office, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is set to resign from the Trump administration at the end of the year.

President Donald Trump announced Zinke's impending departure in a tweet Saturday morning, saying that a replacement would be announced next week.

Ethics watchdogs and climate action groups alike applauded the announcement, as Zinke's close ties to the fossil fuel industry were cause for great concern about his lack of interest in fulfilling the stated mission of the Interior Department, instead giving favorable treatment to oil and gas companies.

"Zinke's days of plundering our lands and enriching himself and his friends are over," said Nicole Ghio, a program manager at Friends of the Earth (FOE). "With an average of nearly one federal investigation opened into his conduct in office per month, Zinke's highly questionable ethics have finally caught up with him. Now, he is just another name on Trump's list of disgraced cabinet officials, which the Republican-led Congress has failed to hold accountable."

"Ryan Zinke's tenure at the Department of Interior was a disaster for public lands of historic proportions," said Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project. "The public and Congress should continue their commitment to vigilant oversight over the ongoing ethical abuses at Interior in order to repair its reputation."

Zinke's departure may help him avoid the questioning that Rep. Raul Griljalva (D-Ariz.) planned to subject him to in January when he takes the helm of the House Natural Resources Committee, over a land deal that was backed by a Halliburton executive in Zinke's hometown of Whitefish, Montana.

A retail development was planned close to properties owned by Zinke, benefiting both the secretary and the Halliburton official, David Lesar. Since Halliburton also stood to benefit from Zinke's lax attitude regarding the use of public land by fossil fuel companies, the deal was investigated as a conflict of interest by Interior's inspector general, Mary Kendall.

Kendall referred the case to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in October, suggesting that a criminal investigation into Zinke's conduct may be underway.

"This is no kind of victory, but I'm hopeful that it is a genuine turning of the page," wrote Griljalva on Twitter. "It's time for the Interior Dept to put the public good ahead of the fossil fuel industry, and House Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee will do just that come January."

FOE has repeatedly called for Zinke's dismissal, and on Saturday the group recognized the 145,000 Americans who signed petitions condemning Zinke's conduct in office.

David Bernhardt, Zinke's deputy and a former oil lobbyist whose clients included Halliburton and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, is widely expected to step in as acting secretary—an appointment that green groups say should cause as much alarm as Zinke's leadership of the Interior Department.

"With Zinke gone, his likely successor David Bernhardt must now be stopped. Bernhardt's history of lobbying for special interests, and his deep ties to fossil fuel companies, make him a walking conflict of interest," said Ghio. "As the new Congress comes into session, Democrats must dig into the corruption at Trump's Interior Department that exploits our lands and waters for the benefit of corporate profits instead of the American people."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·


Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·


New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·


West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo