WASHINGTON—Our semi-regular weekly survey of what’s goin’ down in the several states is postponed until tomorrow morning so that we can bring you this update from Our Nation’s Capital, where there is simply too much weird shit going on to be believed.

First of all, did you know that the State Department has approved the Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death funnel and current conservative fetish object? Well, while you were watching CNN to see if the House of Representatives would agree to include workhouses as a compromise to pass the Ryan tax-cut plan, that’s what the State Department decided to do. From Reuters, via TBOTP:

The State Department’s undersecretary for political affairs, Tom Shannon, will approve the cross-border permit for TransCanada Corp’s pipeline on or before Monday, the report said. Monday is end of the 60-day timeline that Trump ordered in January when he issued an executive order for the construction of Keystone and the Dakota Access pipelines.

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The president* will sign this, of course, even though the country is plainly tired of all this winning. Then, there will be hell to pay in the courts, and out on the plains, especially in Nebraska, where local opposition continues to be fierce. “Trump cannot build his pipeline here,” said Jane Fleming Kleeb, the chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party who has led the fight against the pipeline in front of a coalition of ranchers, farmers, Native peoples, and environmentalists. “Our state has not approved a route and 85 landowners refuse to give up their land so a foreign corporation can make money on the export oil market.”

Well, there’s that.

Meanwhile, in a committee room, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee heard from Jay Clayton, the president*’s nominee to head the Securities and Exchange Commission and a former lawyer for Goldman Sachs. This particular element of Clayton’s professional CV peaked the interest of Senator Professor Warren, who has noticed that there are a remarkable number of Goldman amphibians assigned to help the president* drain the swamp.

Since the SEC is split between Republican and Democratic members, the commissioner often is the deciding vote, and Senator Professor Warren was concerned that Clayton was so hampered by obvious conflicts of interest that the SEC often would be hampered to the point of deadlock. (Your feature-not-a-bug analysis may vary). The following colloquy ensued:

WARREN: Under the president’s executive order for ethics, the first two years of your tenure as SEC chairman, you would have to recuse yourself from any enforcement matter involving a former client. That’s about half of your tenure as chair. Based on your personal client disclosures, then, for half of your tenure as SEC chair, you would not be able to enforce the law against several big banks, including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Barclay’s, and UBS. Is that right?

CLAYTON: Yes, Senator…

WARREN: Those banks have repeatedly violated securities laws in the past few years but, if they violate securities laws again, in your first two years as SEC chairman, you can’t vote to punish them, and I think that’s a problem. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Your recusals would not be limited to your own former clients. The ethics executive order also requires you to recuse yourself for two years from any matter involving clients of your former law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell. Now, Sullivan and Cromwell is a leading New York law firm with a long list of Wall Street clients. For half of your term as SEC chair, you would not be able to vote to punish any corporation or bank that uses Sullivan and Cromwell as their lawyer. Is that right?

Clayton cast his eyes briefly toward the ceiling.

CLAYTON: I believe that’s a fair summary, Senator.

The swamp, she is not draining here.

And last, of course, the president* gave an interview to Time. In his words, you can see the hellscape of a doomed democratic republic and the smoking ashes of the age of reason. You might also see the top of the Statue of Liberty, the way Charlton Heston sees it on the beach in Planet of the Apes.

Well that was in a newspaper. No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast… Why do you say that I have to apologize? I’m just quoting the newspaper, just like I quoted the judge the other day, Judge Napolitano, I quoted Judge Napolitano, just like I quoted Bret Baier, I mean Bret Baier mentioned the word wiretap. Now he can now deny it, or whatever he is doing, you know. But I watched Bret Baier, and he used that term. I have a lot of respect for Judge Napolitano, and he said that three sources have told him things that would make me right. I don’t know where he has gone with it since then. But I’m quoting highly respected people from highly respected television networks.

Screw it, people. It was a helluva run.

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