It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s . . . .
The mystery is solved. The mystery is why does Scott Pruitt think he needs a $24,750 phone booth installed in his office at the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s because . . . . But I get ahead of myself.
Scott Pruitt is the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The phone booth that is being built for him in his private office, at a reported cost of $24,750, is being built by Acoustical Solutions. That company builds a variety of sound-dampening and privacy products. The booths that the company builds are used for hearing tests where complete soundproofing is important. A sales consultant for Acoustical Solutions, however, said that Mr. Pruitt wanted: “a secure phone booth that couldn’t be breached from a data point of view or from someone standing outside eavesdropping.” The fact that Mr. Pruitt says he needs a sound proof phone booth in order to have private conversations when in his office with the door closed, comes as something of a surprise to those who have entered federal buildings in Washington. Those people know that it is not possible to walk into a federal building and stroll from office to office at leisure, entering private spaces without vetting of any sort. Indeed, to visit EPA headquarters it is necessary to present forms of identification that are prescribed by the agency.
An obvious question presented by construction of a telephone booth in Mr. Pruitt’s office is, why hasn’t one been installed in DJT’s office. Pictures of the Oval Office do not show the presence of a sound proof phone booth. The reason is that DJT does most of his important communicating by means of the tweet, and a tweet is, by its very nature, only effective when it is not distributed quietly. Therefore, a secure phone booth is not needed in the Oval Office. What we have now figured out, however, is that privacy is not why Mr. Pruitt wants a sound proof phone booth. He wants it because he thinks it will enable him, in the future, to avoid the criticism he has received from the press for taking charter flights at taxpayer expense instead of flying commercially. His affinity for charter flights is shared by a number of the swamp like creatures who inhabit DJT’s cabinet. They, too, prefer the elegance of the charter flight to the plebian mode of travel favored by the average citizen.
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According to one report, during his first months in office, Mr. Pruitt’s non-commercial airplane travel cost taxpayers more than $58,000. He went home to Oklahoma at least ten times, often flying there at taxpayer expense. On a trip to visit a mine in Colorado with the governor of that state and other officials, Mr. Pruitt declined the offer of a free ride on the governor’s plane, preferring to charter a plane for himself and his staff. And here is why Scott Pruitt, a man who lives in the past and denies climate science, needs a phone booth in his office.
Phone booths, as older readers recall, were formerly found all over the country. The only way of making a phone call, if away from home, was to enter one of those booths, deposit the money in the appropriate slot, dial the number, and proceed to talk with the party on the other end of the line. For one famous comic book character from many years ago, however, it served an even more important purpose. The comic book character was Clark Kent, a man of extraordinary talents, whose day job was as a journalist for the Daily Planet a newspaper in the town of Metropolis. Clark, however, had another persona that he used for the benefit of humanity. When the need for his services arose, he entered a phone booth and within moments emerged from the phone booth as Superman, a man of extraordinary strength who was able to fly all over the world without the aid of an airplane to rescue those in peril. Mr. Pruitt devotes himself in his new day job to help the industries that he, as the EPA’s administrator, regulates.
Mr. Pruitt does not believe that climate change is real. He is dismissive of scientists who think otherwise. He has replaced dozens of members serving on EPA’s scientific advisory boards. And he wants to put an end to the criticism he has received for using chartered airplanes to visit and dine with the executives of energy companies he regulates and has befriended. Recalling Clark Kent, Mr. Pruitt thinks that by installing the phone booth in his office, he will be able to follow in Clark’s footsteps and fly as Superman did, thus saving the taxpayer considerably more money than the cost of the phone booth. The odds are that he will be sorely disappointed when he comes out of the phone booth. He will still be Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The rest of us will also be disappointed because we know that the phone booth is nothing more than another example of Mr. Pruitt’s ability to find ways to have the taxpayer fund his foibles.