Does the name Dirk Kempthorne mean anything to you?

He was a little-known Idaho politico before becoming George W. Bush’s industry-coddling secretary of the interior in 2006. While Dirk was not big on protecting our nation’s public lands and natural resources from polluters and exploiters, he was very big on protecting the privileges of his own office — in particular the environment in which he was expected to relieve himself.

Apparently, the secretary’s personal, private-office toilet leaked. In 2007, he had it renovated.

There’s no problem with that — except that the cost to us taxpayers for his bathroom upgrade was $222,000. What?



Yes, his 10-foot-by-10-foot water closet cost more to renovate than many people pay for their entire house. Good grief, is that even possible? Well, yes, if you’re a former corporate executive who expects the facility to be worthy of your exalted station in life.

Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, details of his palatial potty have finally come to light this year. They include $26,000 for custom cabinetry. This splurge perhaps makes sense in that he was, after all, a cabinet official. The $689 faucet added a needed touch of elegance to a room that, otherwise, would merely be functional.

But what took Kempthorne’s throne over the top — all the way to interior design majesty — was its $3,500 sub-zero refrigerator and freezer, tucked tastefully behind wood paneling. As I think we can all agree, a latrine without a proper fridge is just another crapper.


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Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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