Zinke Faces Questions about Smokey the Bear at Hearing
Montana Representative Ryan Zinke completed an afternoon hearing in Washington, D.C., about his appointment to be Secretary of the Interior.
Among the questions about global warming, Bureau of Indian Affairs, water, timber, public land access and more at Tuesday's confirmation hearing at the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Smokey the Bear was brought up several times.
In talking about how the image of Smokey the Bear has suffered in parts of the country, Zinke said all federal departments have to be better at helping the public and he wanted to restore Smokey's image.
"Who doesn't love Smokey the Bear?" he said.
Minnesota Senator Al Franken then said, "Now let me get this straight. Smokey the Bear isn't real, right?"
With a smile, Zinke replied, "He's real to me, sir."
A short time later in the hearing, Senator Martin Heinrich sought to correct his fellow Democrat and brought up the story of the real Smokey the Bear in 1950.
Heinrich then asked Zinke, "Do you dispute that?"
The gallery chuckled and Zinke responded, "I do not and (with) my grandchildren behind me, I also believe in Santa Claus."
Senator John Barrasso at the end of the hearing said that he and Sen. Heinrich would be developing written questions about "Smokey the Bear, Yogi Bear and the Teddy Bear."
Zinke attended the hearing with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.