Lots of people like to tell the story of ditzy pop star Jessica Simpson congratulating the secretary of the interior (then Gale Norton) on her decorating job in the White House. But how many people really know what's involved in running the U.S. Department of the Interior and serving as a member of the president's cabinet?
The Interior Department oversees a full fifth of the country's land, about a half-billion acres, including the national park system, the national wildlife refuges, and the 66 million acres held in trust for American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska natives.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has been in the job since May 2006. He's had plenty of titles in his career, working his way up from mayor (of Boise, Idaho) to U.S. senator (Republican of Idaho) before becoming a nearly two-term governor of Idaho (he was appointed to the cabinet before finishing his second term).
Now he spends his time fighting methamphetamine abuse in Indian country, stepping up border security in the Southwest, and kicking off Washington's annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
He kindly agreed to give us the scoop on his job by finishing some of our sentences:
1. My job title should really read..."secretary of the treasury, because I oversee America's real treasures...America the beautiful."
2. Breakfast this morning consisted of..."scrambled eggs and Idaho hash browns."
3. The toughest thing about my day is..."figuring out new ways to reconnect American children to nature."
4. When I'm not working, I make time for..."checking in on my first grandchild, Brody, in Idaho; visiting the Lincoln Memorial; doing push-ups and crunches; and riding my Harley."
5. If my 10-year-old self could see me now, he would say..."Wow, you really love your job, don't you?"