Long before he was nominated by Trump to become the next secretary of the Interior Department, Ryan Zinke hosted a Montana-based radio show that hosted birthers and truthers who questioned President Obama's legitimacy.
CNN did a deep dive on Zinke's radio show and found that Zinke did not push back against questions raised about President Obama's citizenship and, in fact, I would say Zinke's response was just as bad if not worse and leads me to personally believe Zinke may be a birther.
During one interview, Zinke specifically questioned President Obama's academic credentials, the methods he used to obtain a scholarship, and vaguely called for someone to leak his college transcripts.
In the July 2013 interview, Zinke said to [birther Larry Bailey], "You took on birther, college, you're pretty hard on this administration." [...]
Zinke then said, "And the college records, you know, why not release them? I'm interested. Did he [Obama] say he was a foreigner and did he get a scholarship? Did he apply and receive a grant? That's what I hear. I don't know."
Bailey then claimed without evidence that a black Muslim man arranged for Obama to get admitted to Harvard Law School and that he paid for schooling with a grant from the Saudis.
"I'd like to see his transcripts. I'd like it definitive," Zinke responded.
"I hear things, you read things, you know, and obviously they're -- if our national PRISM program is out in the wire you, you'd think that we could get a hold of our president's college transcripts, but maybe that's just a bridge too far," Zinke continued, referencing the NSA surveillance program.
An Interior Department spokeswoman responded to a request for comment from CNN by saying Zinke hosted a range of controversial opinions on his radio show, but that wouldn't explain Zinke's implication that President Obama may have lied (or revealed his true origin) to obtain a scholarship. The most generous thing you could say here is that Zinke was merely dog-whistling to his radio audience and did does not actually believe President Obama was illegitimate.
My gut says Zinke would not call on Trump to release his tax returns with the same prosecutorial vigor and that doesn't even involve questioning Trump's nationality or place of birth.
Meanwhile, another review of Zinke's more recent record found that he has referred to himself as a "geologist" at least 40 times, including moments when he was testifying in front of Congress, to justify his decisions.
Zinke has said he's a geologist to defend his decisions to shrink national monuments and grant Florida a politically-motivated exemption from offshore drilling, among other things, but he has never been a geologist.
Zinke did study in geology in college, but he literally chose geology at random.
In his autobiography, Zinke wrote that he majored in geology at the University of Oregon, which he attended on a football scholarship, and chose his major at random.
"I studied geology as a result of closing my eyes and randomly pointing to a major from the academic catalog, and I never looked back. I am just glad I did not find electronics," he wrote, adding that he was focused and a good student, and earned an outstanding academic achievement award his senior year.
I am also not a geologist, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.