Those salmon never stood a chance.
As The Washington Post
reports this morning in part four
of the paper's series
on Vice President Cheney, when the fate of some endangered salmon threatened Republican electoral prospects in Oregon, Cheney sprang into action. Farmers wanted water from the Klamath River basin diverted for irrigation, but federal biologists said that two species of fish were at stake. From the Post
Bush and Cheney couldn't afford to anger thousands of solidly Republican farmers and ranchers during the midterm elections and beyond. The case also was rapidly becoming a test for conservatives nationwide of the administration's commitment to fixing what they saw as an imbalance between conservation and economics.
And as the Post
details, Cheney reached deep into the Interior Department to make sure that the issue was dealt with.
But Karl Rove also weighed in -- in his own way. Just in case the vice president's heavy hand wasn't enough, Rove made sure that Department officials far and wide knew where the administration stood on the issue by way of one of his now famous PowerPoint presentations.
From Tom Hamburger, reporting for The Wall Street Journal back in 2003:
[Rove] visited the 50 Interior managers attending a department retreat at a Fish and Wildlife Service conference center in Shepherdstown, W.Va. In a PowerPoint presentation Mr. Rove also uses when soliciting Republican donors, he brought up the Klamath and made clear that the administration was siding with agricultural interests.
His remarks weren't entirely welcome -- especially by officials grappling with the competing arguments made by environmentalists, who wanted river levels high to protect endangered salmon, and Indian tribes, who depend on the salmon for their livelihoods. Neil McCaleb, then an assistant Interior secretary, recalls the "chilling effect" of Mr. Rove's remarks. Wayne Smith, then with the department's Bureau of Indian Affairs, says Mr. Rove reminded the managers of the need to "support our base." Both men since have left the department.
The administration, of course, won the battle -- a victory (like so many others) that was eventually overruled in court.