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  • Writer's pictureDavid Bernhart

The Name's (Almost) the Same

Yeah, I'm exhaling a little today. Among the reasons, besides the obvious, is that a Cabinet member of the now-previous presidential administration made it to the end of his term in office without saying or doing anything to bring dishonor to, or even much awareness of, his name. Why is this important to me? His name is David Bernhardt.

This David Bernhardt served as Secretary of the Interior for the past two years. Not surprisingly, he came to the job having worked as a lobbyist for the oil and energy industry, so I really shouldn't imply that he has a squeaky-clean resume. As had been the case with his 2017 nomination as deputy secretary, my homophonous namesake's 2019 nomination to the top post at Interior was opposed by an array of conservationist and allied groups, all pointing to Bernhardt's history of siding with big business at the expense of endangered species and wildlife in general. The Natural Resources Defense Council went so far in its objection as to publish an article titled "Who is David Bernhardt? (And Why Every Environmentalist Should Care.)" Bernhardt was confirmed by the Senate anyway.

More recently, the Government Accountability Office issued a report finding that Secretary Bernhardt had twice broken federal law in a matter involving the National Park Service and the transfer of funds without authorization from Congress. Bernhardt also ordered the relocation of the Bureau of Land Management from Washington, D.C., to, of all places, Grand Junction, Colo. Of all places, that is, until one remembers that Bernhardt is a lifelong Coloradan. And he capped his service to the nation last month by leading a private, after-hours tour of the Washington Monument, then testing positive for COVID-19, which resulted in the quarantine of those in his tour party and several Park Service staff, along with the closure of the monument over a weekend.

I love the swamp creature sitting behind the Honorable Mr. Bernhardt in the above hearing.

Throughout my adult life, I idly wondered what I would do if another David Bernhart (or Bernhardt) hit the news, particularly if he committed embarrassing acts or worse. When I was 10 years old, the Manson Family murders happened. I wasn't conscious of those events at the time, but in the years that followed, my mother occasionally reminded me that our neighbors three doors up the block -- the Mansons -- had received many crank calls in the aftermath of the killings. They shared only a surname with the infamous Charles Manson, but they were still harassed.

Despite his questionable deeds, David Bernhardt stayed largely out of the public eye right to the finish and so, as someone whose name sounds exactly the same, I'm relieved.

Then I turn on the TV a moment ago and see a commercial for a new banking app ... called Dave:

Just when I thought my troubles were over.

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