Interview with Director Ronald H. Walker

Ron, when and how were you notified you'd been selected to be Director...

How and when were you notified that you'd been selected as Director of the National Park Service?

Well, Boyd, as you know, I was a Special Assistant to President Nixon and really his chief advance man, which traveled both domestically and internationally.

And in 1972 I think my wife Ann indicated I was home about 13 days.

We had three small children.

I hadn't been home very much for the last four years of that administration.

And I promised her when the election was over win, lose or draw, that I would take her on a vacation.

So we went to Ireland.

Before I left, there were a um in of people on my staff that wanted jobs.

I tried to help them as best possible, and I wrote a letter of resignation.

I had no intentions of staying into the second four years if President Nixon wanted.

But the morning of the election... or the night... the morning after the election, about 7:00 in the morning, and we had celebrated pretty hard and heavy that night, because we won, and we got a phone call about 7:00 in the morning and the President's calling all the senior staff and cabinet to the White House.

Long story short, common history now, he asked for everybody's resignation.

Haldeman said it was probably one of the dumbest things they ever did.

I had already given my resignation.

So I wasn't concerned about it.

Got on an airplane.

Went to Ireland.

Spent three weeks there.

We returned.

Went back to my office.

And I received a phone call from a gentleman named Fred Malik, who was the personnel czar in the White House, and he had, "I've looked at a few of your men.

I think we've got some positions they can go into."

And they said, "Now how about you?"

I said, "I've turned my letter of resignation in.

Now it's time to look for a job and go make some money."

And he said, "Well, what about the Park Service?"

Gave it one of those and I said, "What do you mean?"

He said, "Oh, forget it."

He hadn't any more than hung that phone up and my hotline on my big console on my desk with a hotline from Bob Haldeman, the Chief of Staff for President Nixon.

And he said, "Can you come see me?"

I said, "I'll be right over."

I walked across my office and on the third floor of the old Executive Office Building, and without running it would take me about seven to eight minutes, 10 at a max, to get over to the West Wing, if I walked the stairs.

By the time I got to the West Wing and walked upstairs to the second floor where the Oval Office is, Haldeman's Executive Assistant Larry Higby said, "Bob's been called into the President.

Would you go up to Ehrlichman's office and he'll join you shortly."

The third floor was substance.

It was the domestic counsel and stuff.

My role was to raise crowds, blow up balloons, paint hand signs, keep everybody out of trouble, make sure Air Force 1 got off and everything.

So I'm now in the lofty level of where policy is made.

Lots of pals up there.

I walk into Ehrlichman's office, and he said, "Well, I guess Malik blew it."

And I said, "That's the second time somebody has said that to me.

I don't know what you're talking about."

Well, he sat there with those half glasses looking over them, if you remember Ehrlichman, God bless his soul.

About that time Bob walked in, and he said, "Sit down."

He said, "While you are on vacation, we were down in Key Biscayne on B.B.'s boat"... B.B. Rebozo..." with Bob Abplanalp," who are really President Nixon's two closest friends other than family.

And he said, "We were going through the Biscayne National Monument," and he said "the President all of a sudden sitting at the end of the houseboat said 'I want Hartzog fired.'"

And both Bob and John who were with them said, "Mr. President, we've had this conversation over the years.

Basically, Hartzog's got more political clout on the hill than you do."

And he said, "Besides that, we don't have a replacement."

And the President said to them on that boat, "I have a replacement.

It's going to be Ron Walker."

Well, I took a deep breath.

I'm glad I was sitting down.

And I said, "I'm going to be as forthcoming as I can."

I looked at those guys and I said, "Do you know the closest I've come to a National Park is pissing on a tree?"

Well, they didn't laugh.

All of a sudden Ehrlichman with those half glasses started to laugh, and then Bob started to laugh.

I'm about to cry.

And I said, "Gentleman, I don't want that job."

Now, this is contrary to what a lot of opinions were that I had fought for this and wanted that job.

I no more wanted that job than the man on the moon.

So we talked about it for a few minutes, and I stood up to leave.

Bob, uncharacteristically, put his arm around me, walked me out the door, and said "If you're serious, go home and sleep on it, talk to Ann, and come back in tomorrow, and if you're of a mind not to do this, I'll go in with this, but you're telling the President."

Well, I went home, nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.

Ann and I didn't sleep very much that night.

Talked about it.

See, we were only making like $23,000 or $24,000 in the White House in those days.

And I had these three small daughters.

Some day I'm going to have to pay for college and other things.

So to stay another four years was not really... not really smart on my part.

But, long story short, I'd already committed to Commander-in-Chief once before in the military, and I just had the kind of training you don't say no to the President of the United States.

So I came back the next morning... it's a long-winded story, I apologize... but I came back the next morning and I called Bob and I said "Ann and I talked it over.

If the President still wants me, I'll do my best."

It's nice to have that laid out, because there are so many versions of it.

And I never really wanted to, from my perspective, to argue about it or to do anything about it.

That's 25 years.

So finally when Barry McIntosh, who had been trying for two or three years, he and Ann were really close when she was on the National Park Advisory Board, and he kept tweaking Ann about getting Barry to do it, and when Barry called and said, "Look, I'm retiring, you're the only Director we don't have, would you do it," and I mentioned that night at dinner that we... I have those, I'm sure the Park Service has got them around, but... I finally did that.

So there's another piece of the record that will be there.

Having accepted the position, what concerns did you have?

Well, one. Very first jobs I was asked to perform for President Nixon in 1969... I had no intention of coming into the administration in '69.

I had a nice job in the private sector, and I'd done volunteer work during the election, and when we came back from the first European trip... Nixon wanted to go to Europe to see deGaulle and Pompidou and all these people that had been friends of his when he was what he called his wilderness years, and he wanted to go and express his appreciation for their friendship.

So during the inaugural, I was asked... there were only seven or eight of us out of 150 advance men that were asked to go on this international trip.

Well, that was really an honor to do that at that time, and as we came back, we were on the airplane, and the President called me up, and at that point said, "Look, the advance operation helped me win this election."

Prior to that, Johnson and Kennedy, who had advance men, and in all fairness most of them were backroom cigar-smoking can tell you what precincts are going to turn out and vote and everything like that... in our terminology they were hacks... what we had as an advance operation were some of the smartest, young businessmen in America, and I could go through a litany now that they're chairmen and CEO's of companies.

That was our quality.

And he said, "I want you to establish an Advance Office, and I want it to be in the White House.

I don't want it hidden.

I don't want it... I want it to be out in the open and clean."

So that was... I knew I had that job.

When we landed, Ann had just moved the little girls from Dallas up to Washington for a long stay, school... they weren't in school.

I at that point was asked to go over and help Walter Hickel.

One of my great memories of Walter Hickel, Nixon announced his cabinet between Christmas and New Year's, and it was live television.

It was a smart thing to do.

Only chair that was empty was interior because Mike Gravel, who was... Senator Stevens out of Alaska was blocking his nomination.

And Wally was a tough all coot, if you remember.

And they said, "We would like you to go over and set up his office, get him squared away."

Herb Block came out with a cartoon about that time, and it had Nixon with that swoop nose that Herb Block had captured so beautifully, and here's Stands and Mitchell and Bob Finch and all the cabinet members, and about four feet behind them was Wally trying to put his pants on, and that was kind of the story.

So I went over initially to work with Walter Hickel.

Brought Tom Holly up, brought Dave Parker up from the bowels.

Helped Eric.

He had a guy named Carl McMurray, who I think Carl has passed away as well.

But Carl was a closeted alcoholic.

I mean, he was intoxicated more often than not.

He'd been one of Walter Hickel's top guns in Alaska.

So I set up his schedule operation, I set up his office, got him all organized and everything, and it was during that time that there was a problem with the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Director of the Park Service was George Hartzog.

So I went down into his massive office and met this guy bigger than life, and we had a terrific visit.

He explained a lot of things to me about the Park Service, which I was completely ignorant of, and we kind of developed a really nice relationship.

I wasn't there more than about four or five months, but he was nice enough to introduce me to Camp Hoover.

We were the first people in the Nixon administration that went to Camp Hoover in the Shenandoah.

Our little girls loved that place over the years.

And he was just a nice... a nice friend to me.

That's basically how I met George Hartzog.

And then I would see him periodically.

He was nice enough to invite me, Ann and I, to various events and everything.

I saw firsthand from the White House... of course, Hickel resigned.

Russ Trane was over there.

And at that point I think he... I don't know who... I can't remember who went in there as Secretary of Interior.

Rogers C.B. Morton at some point, but I think there was an interim, whether it was Tom Kleppe or somebody else between Hickel and Rogers Morton.

Maybe not.

I just don't remember.

So, you know, back to your question, the long way around it, but I think the first thoughts I had was, "How in the world can a 32-year-old whippersnapper that's been good in one arena going to handle this with this huge department of which I had very little knowledge of?"

Very shortly after I agreed to do... I'll put it in perspective for you.

Shortly after I agreed and told the President, the day I was announced was right in the middle of Nixon's new cabinet, and one of the reasons he asked for everybody's resignation was he wanted to get rid of the dead weight and the people he didn't like, or he didn't feel they were doing the job, and then put people back in there for the second round because they concentrated for reelection purposes only to do international travel, and in that last year, I was asked personally by the President to do China, and I say "do China."

People say, "What in the hell does that mean?"

It meant that there had been no American into China in 25 years.

Edgar Snow was a war correspondent that went in there and had made the long march with Mao and Zhou Enlai.

So when Kissinger made that trip, the next trip was the Hague trip, and then the next trip was the Walker trip.

And I took 100 men in with me, and it was probably one of the toughest things I've ever done in my life because we had no embassy, had no support on the ground, medical facilities, anything.

And the Chinese would only deal with one person, and that was the responsible person, and there I was, that.

It was a huge success.

I maintain that the President of the United States was probably as safe during that 10-day period of time as he had at any time in his life, because they arrested people, and I did not know that the last emperor was still alive working in the botanical gardens there, and it was the cultural revolution was going on, Mao's wife... so that was a tough situation.

You move in to a job like that and not have any knowledge of it... the morning my announcement happened, I get a phone call from Haldeman and he said, "Have you seen "The New York Times?"."

And I said, "I don't get the 'Times'."

You know, I'm way down the list on delivery of newspapers.

I get the summary, but he said, "Well, go out and find it."

Well, Herb Klein was the Director of Communications to the President down at the end of the hall.

So I went down and jobbed one of theirs because they weren't at work.

Our staff meetings started at 6:30 in the morning.

And there it was, lead editorial in the "New York Times" was, "Ronald H. Walker???"

And then it went right down the litany, you know, "We don't know who this guy is, but if you look at his resume, there isn't any way in the world this guy is going to be able to run the National Park Service.

We may be wrong, but we don't think so."

And so I thought, "Well, here it goes."

And it was an uphill battle from that point on.

I will say this, I took that editorial, blew it up as big as I could, and I hung it outside my office at the Department of Interior, and every morning when I walked by it I kind of flipped it the finger just saying "I'll show you guys."

I knew it was going to be tough.

I had no relationships on the Hill whatsoever.

I mean, I knew a few congressmen and a few senators just by virtue of the domestic travel I would do.

So I knew that, one, I had to learn the Park Service.

I had to meet its people.

I had to learn what the mission was all about.

I had to study my butt off for those budget hearings with Julia Butler Hansen.

And then I had to start making friends.

Is this okay if I just...

Absolutely, yes.

The day I was announced, I get a phone call from Tom Johnson, who is now President of CNN.

He had been a White House Fellow under Johnson's watch, President Johnson.

And when President Johnson left office, Tom went with him back to Austin.

The Johnson family had radio and newspapers and all kinds of activities there, and Tom kind of became the President's liaison with those businesses with Mrs. Johnson.

And Tom said, "Congratulations."

He said, "The President and Mrs. Johnson send their congratulations and they'd like to have you come to the ranch."

And he said, "When will it be convenient?"

And I said, "Tom"... now, back up one more minute.

When Nixon and Johnson... when the transition happened, my counterpart when I went in for Nixon's side was Tom Johnson.

So we went through that 10-week period of time with the transition, and so I got to know Tom pretty well, and we're still good friends to this day.

So I had a relationship.

And I said, "Tom, you know, you tell me when I ought to be there and I'll be there."

And he said, "No, he would like to have you and Mrs. Walker come and be their guests."

So we decided it was Super Bowl weekend, January of 1973.

We flew down.

Secret Service met us.

We rode in the backseat holding hands scared to death.

And when we got to the ranch... I'd been there a couple, three times, and every time I'd been there, we either left in one day or they put us in three bunk houses down the way.

So I figured we'd be in one of those bunk houses.

Jimmy pulled right up to the... he said, "Ron"... and I knew his agents because some of them had worked with us.

He said, "Walk right in.

They're expecting you."

Well, it was the President, Mrs. Johnson, the two girls, and a guy named Charlie Boatner.

If you remember that name.

He was the Texas park representative, which Hartzog said was a real... it's too bad.

And he got up bigger than life, and I was in charge of the dedication of his library, so I took President Nixon down for that, I'd been there a couple of times with the President, the President needed his vote on the Cambodia bombings and other things.

I ended up kind of being the liaison because of my relationship with Tom.

He grabs Ann, and by that time Lyndon had that long hair in back and everything, he looked like Buffalo Lyndon, I think that's what "The New York Times" had dubbed him, grabbed Ann, gave her a hug and said, "You must be Ann, darling.

What are you drinking?

We got Coors on tap."

And we spent the next four days in the Kennedy bedroom with Johnson taking us around that... his birthplace, school he went to, where his mother was buried, up into the exotic animals he had, the Secret Service coming along behind with all the hooch and the booze and stuff in there, and we would have cocktails up on the Mesa.

And he basically was testing me.

He'd had a... Mrs. Johnson had a great relationship with George Hartzog.

They didn't know me from a stump.

One of the first things he did, he just wanted to make sure that Bird was going to be taken care of.

"The ranch, we've given you the ranch, it's yours."

It's a working ranch and Jewel and Dale Malicek were there, and... the morning... the morning that we left, and I was running at that point... I was in great shape, I went out for a really long run, even before dawn, and as I came back, I went into the kitchen, and he had a Filipino gentleman he had taken out of the White House mess that was kind of his kitchen aide and steward, and I... I was having a cup of coffee, still in my sweat gear, and here comes Lyndon down in his bathrobe.

Sits down at the table and starts to pontificate, and I'd have given anything in the world if I'd just had a pencil and a piece of paper, because he spent the next three hours telling me how to be Director of the Park Service.

I did a lot of them, but one thing I did not do, and it's so vivid to me now, he said, "Get on the Hill.

Meet the members of your various conferences.

Meet the members of your delegations or whatever the case may be, oversight committees.

Take them out for dinner.

Grab their children.

Hold them.

Kiss them.

Because when they call you up there and they're looking down at you, if you've had that kind of relationship, they can't beat the shit out of you."

I didn't do that.

I spent more time in the field trying to meet Park Service people and let them know that I wasn't some crazy weird owe out of the White House.

Some of them may think that, may have thought it then, but I think once I started things that I did maybe that overcame that.

But that's... that's that.

Q. Have you seen changes in how Americans value National Parks?

Do you think they perceive them differently now than they did during your tenure?

Boyd, I'm not sure.

There was enormous respect... to this day I'll be introduced as the former Director of the National Park Service, and you would think I was at the right hand of God.

So I don't know in 25 years that it's made... I think... if anything, it's been enhanced.

I think our world of communications at this point is such that if there are fires in Yellowstone, the whole world knows about the fires if there are fires in Alamos and a Superintendent resigns because of it, Karen Wade had to be devastated by that, and it took them a long time to recover from that.

Those kinds of things now get worldwide play.

All I know is it's a huge admiration for the National Park Service and the people in it... and the people in it are the best.

One of the things that's happened more and more is that other Federal agencies, Forest Service, BLM, Fish & Wildlife, even the Corps, Bureau of Reclamation, have gotten more and more into things very similar to what the Park Service is about and away from extractive and manipulative things a little more.

How do you think that will affect the Park Service in the next quarter century?

I think that... in all probably, you may find a President or another administration... I've heard rumors in and around that the Clinton administration with... because of the relationship with Bruce Babbitt, and perhaps Al Gore, I'm not that familiar with this administration, but what I have seen and heard is that there's been talk about merging some of these into one.

I even heard one rumor flying around that Park Service would be made its own entity, and I know there are a lot of people within the Service that would love that.

25 years ago I would have loved that because I wouldn't have had Nat Reed breathing down my neck all the time.

But be that as it may, I think you may find some consolidation that could come forward.

The management style of those agencies you mentioned are so much different than the Park Service's mission, so from that standpoint, I would be very leery of any kind of mutual admiration society, whether they're folded into Interior, or where Park Service goes out on its own, or it's folded into agriculture, which would be a disaster in its own rite.

So I think the Park Service should stick to their mission and mind their P's and Q's.

For folks in the Park Service, things like species and ecosystems preservation and the opportunity to find personal renewal and protected areas are what we think of as National Park values.

What do you see as the proper role of the Park Service to help... in helping other entities such as those we've just been talking about and beyond that to promote those values where Americans live and work?

I may be walking on hallowed ground right now, but I have some very serious... I don't think anybody would ever listen to them because I don't articulate them, because I've watched this administration set aside lands that... let me back up for one minute.

One of the very first things I did, I say first things, I wasn't there all that long, so it had to be within a few months of having got there, was to put a task force together, and you may recall this, to look inside to see what the National Park Service needed.

That's just... when I talk about pause, reflect, look at yourself and everything.

Because of the rapid growth with Connie and George I think had pushed the Park Service, at least it was my feeling at the time, and I think supported by most of the people up and down the hall, certainly with Tom Flynn before he left and Russ Cane, that I was on target, that we just needed a little time... George would take anything he could get his hands on, and I applaud him for that.

When you find an administration that is taking resources, specifically money, out of other entities within the government to purchase these large inholdings... Escalante is a perfect example of that, and now they're talking about the Ironwood Park in Arizona... that task force in the final analysis, this is 25 years ago, basically said... I asked the question, "What do we need to do to round out this system, bring those entities in here?"

And my memory tells me... I had this same problem with Barry and he didn't help me very much... one was a prairie grass in the central part of the country.

Then there was some swamp areas that should be looked at.

And that was about all they came up with.

So my attitude while I was there, and even subsequent to that after having left, is that we got pretty close to getting everything in America that really needed to be preserved on a National Park basis.

Now, I'm not talking about recreation areas, historical sites or anything... just the National Park areas.

And with the budgets that we had... you know, it came... at that point 25 years ago, it was somewhere between 6 and $10 billion to bring roads and housing and everything up to that standard.

God only knows what it is now.

Because it hadn't been done.

So when you find an administration that's trying to skirt the system to add more things into the pot and taking other things, and specifically it was the money for training of fire prevention and everything else that happened on these most recent fires in Montana, Idaho, Los Alamos, that money has all been taken out of those fire kind of preventions and put into the acquisition of these lands and stuff now, I'm not saying they're not worthy.

I'm just... I... I'm not sure.

And I had no part in it at all.

But it makes me nervous.

So there is extensive acquisition of private lands involved... I've kind of thought of them as just a transfer... or actually, a change in status, and in most cases being left under the original agency.

Is that right?

That's why the citizens of Utah were so upset and you got certain people in Arizona now that are upset.

You don't hear the conservation environmentalists, the Sierra Club or any of that crowd, Conservation Fund... Pat Noonan and John Turner had some concern as to what's going on there, because what I... and you ever to understand, I was a novice at the time, and I'm not much more than that today because I've gone on with my own life, but in all practicality, if you're going to round the system out, we do that on a national basis.

It's the U.S. Government that does.

And, sure, there are other entities within our country that may want to be... well, that's where the states come in, and that's what I fought for.

Congaree Swamp was a perfect example.

I went down and spent two days down there and I never seen so many goddamn flies and alligators and everything else, and I thought, man, there is no way this thing ought to be a National Park.

Nobody will ever get here.

If they did, they're going to get eaten alive.

And, oh, man, I really pissed them off down there.

That didn't go over very well.

But... my attitude was I'm going to be here for a short period... I didn't realize how short it was going to be, but that I was going to be here, so I might as well say what I think.

And that's... so that's what I did.

If you were appointed Director of the Park Service today, what would your action agenda look like?

Well, I think one of the first things I would do is go to the Hill.

No, I just... I think that's a really important aspect of it.

Read the question to me one more time.

If you were appointed Director today, what would your action agenda be?

You know, that's kind of funny, I'm not sure I wouldn't do what I did 25 years ago, because in the meantime now there's been so much more, and if you talk to Finley or Nichols or... the ones I'm close to now, Jackson Hole, and then going to these various parks with the National Park Foundation, I'm part of the alumni group now, you talk about Mesa Verde, Olympic, they're hurting.

The roads and everything else.

I think I'd go back to what I did then, you know, pause, reflect, it's been 25 years, and that's try and come with the resources that can put these things into 100% beautiful parks.

And I would concentrate primarily on our National Parks.

Do you think the Park Service today is working effectively with the science community?

That was one of the questions that I saw... I'm not sure that I even have the slightest idea.

There have been some pretty substantial changes in the way they go about it.

Yes, and I don't know that I would be privy to that.

In one of my visits to Mesa Verde, talking with Larry, was they have found scientifically not only from aerial shots from satellites, and I guess the fires have sort of brought out even more, they knew that there were at least another thousand entities within Mesa Verde, and the ancients, obviously, hid them well, and nature has done a good job of that first, I guess now that the fires have hit it, there may be a restoration problem in that regard.

I see science helping us do those kinds of things, and I'm sure that's beyond my job description, beyond my pay grade.

One of the issues that's become... kind of periodically comes and goes, certainly in recent years, wilderness has become a hot button issue again, particularly in the west.

And one of the things that has been suggested is that there's been inconsistent treatment of wilderness by the Park Service and that's contributed to this controversy that's grown.

Do you have any thoughts about that?

I will give a personal analysis to that.

One of the first parks I went to visit with Ann was Yellowstone.

I didn't know Jack Anderson all that well.

Gary was in Grand Tetons.

But I just felt that symbolically... and I tried to do a lot of things that were symbolic because I just needed a lot of help at the outset for credibility purposes.

And when we went into Yellowstone, and then Jack drove us up to Mammoth, and we came all the way back down, the one thing I could not get over was the blight disease in the lodgepole pines.

And you drive through these forests, and they were like... I said, "Aren't those like match sticks?

"You know, I'm fairly naive in this regard.

I said, "Why don't we clean these things up?"

I even went so far, probably blasphemy, saying, "Well, the locals need firewood.

Why can't they come in here and, these dead trees, and"... bottom line was... you know, Horace Albright got so mad at me when I started talking this way, because his attitude was that's nature, although he was opposed to the fires... I mean, he didn't feel natural burn was helpful to anything.

And I share that as well today.

It just didn't make any sense to me.

Now, that's inside the park.

It has nothing to do with wildernesses.

But I think there is an analogy that goes with that, if you look into the Wilderness Areas.

The management of them from our standpoint, I can't see where the Park Service has done anything different than they would from their mission.

You're going to find outsiders that will... there's always going to be that element that's not going to like anything that you're doing.

But I go back to another point that there were a number of Wilderness Areas on my watch that I felt probably as opposed to being put into National Parks... unless they're in holdings that are going to enhance the park, they're better off reverting back to the states and let the state take care of it.

Our state governments are strong, and they're good governors, they're good legislatures, for the most part, and I think they're all good people, and I think given that kind of a challenge and putting it into their bailiwick would certainly force them to start making some... taking some action, and if you don't do anything like that, they're going to sit there and let the Federal government take it over, and I don't think the Federal government shoe be taking over all these activities when it can't take care of what they've got.

Some characterize cultural resource matters as an elitist concern, as some do wilderness, and something that the average citizen, in fact, really isn't interested in.

How would you respond to that?

I'm not sure I agree with that last statement.

I think that, at least from my perspective, and I'm currently the chairman of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, which sits right next to Gettysburg, and the Virginia Military Academy is not far from there, and Gettysburg, Valley Forge... I... there has to be a balance, and when you start looking at cultural... they're going to continue to have those through the ages.

As we all get older, whatever the case may be, somebody's house is going to be just as important as Johnson's was or Martin Luther King's was.

Boconoco (phonetic).

There's going to be the Rockefeller family, you know, they're going to do something with that because it's not being used now.

Presidents are going to come and they're going to go, they're going to die, and as a result of that, you've got... unless they're like President Nixon where his library is totally paid for by private citizens, which was his last wish.

So my attitude is we should continue to look and be judgmental in those kind of cultural activities that we look to put into the National Park Service.

And here again, in many instances, the state can take some of those actions, and I think if that was forced for them to at least look at taking some action that there might be some result out of that.

The ownership of cultural resources has been a divisive issue between Native peoples and scientists, the science community.

Do you remember that being a particular concern during your time as Director?

Yes... I was trying to think who was head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs at that time, and I can't remember.

He was from Alaska.

He was killed in a plane crash in Alaska later.

I can remember him coming and us having enormous, lengthy, difficult conversations about the Native Americans.

He didn't feel we were doing enough, but he... he never came forward with any recommendations or suggestions or anything else.

I can remember talking to Bill Quick and Lynn Norwood about going over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and let's see what they're talking about.

Bill came back and said, "You know, all these reservations and stuff, that... they want to go in there and they want... the Native Americans want to go in and do certain things, but don't want science or us coming in there and messing around with it because they're holy grounds of theirs."

So that's a tough one there.

I mean, you talk to Larry Weiss at Mesa Verde, I mean, the problems he's got today, whether it's seven or eight different tribes and ancients going back to however many, so every piece of ground he touches somebody somewhere has got something to say about it, or wants to have something to say about it.

I don't know how that... I don't know how to tackle that one.


And I don't look at that as elitist by any sense of the imagination.

I look at that as just practical management of our resources, that the heritage of this country... and there's no better entity than the Park Service to move into those areas which are nationally significant.

Nancy Reynolds... do you know Nancy... has a place in Cortez, right outside, and they found Indian burial grounds where they were building some homes, and so we're helping her raise some money, but she did not come to the Park Service to get it.

We're doing it on a private basis, and it will be the University of Colorado that will going in there to help... maybe University of Mexico as well.

And that's how I looked at certain activities, or the best way from a community standpoint to handle those situations.

How do you think the Park Service can help an increasingly diverse American population, a population made up increasingly of what had been considered minority groups...

Just look at your presidential election this year.

... have them feel that they have a real stake in the parks?

I don't know, when you find 75% of the people that are voting right now in California is Hispanic and Asian, and I think by the year 2010 the majority of the population in that state is going to be the balance between those two, and maybe African-Americans.

That's a tough one, because most of those people, while they're first and second generations, they really have not had the historical, cultural activities that impact on our country that I think they will into the future.

So I think it's something we should be cognizant of and knowledgeable to the point that when things begin to be impacted by virtue of their... their culture, whatever they have brought.

Japanese are... Japanese-Americans are an interesting one as well as the Chinese.

Hispanics, I mean, all the way down through the Southwest, I mean, you know that, and I think they've done a lot with the missions and everything up and down the coast of California and across the Southwest certainly has... both in Indian-Americans and others.

That's long-winded.

You think...

...NAGPRA, I guess it's called.

I would have mentioned it if I could have remembered and remembered when it was passed.

But it was passed fairly recently.

And we really weren't thinking a whole lot about that.

We were pretty casual about, you know, if it's in the park, we dig it up and we do a real good job of recording it and trying to figure out what it tells us about the past, but we were fairly slow in coming around to recognize that we have some real sensitivities among some of our neighbors that we weren't giving enough consideration, I think, and they've been letting us know about it.

Pretty strenuously.

Would you agree that that's probably going to continue?

Oh, I think so.

And I think... I don't know what will precipitate that, but it would appear to me that as you get more sophisticated individuals out of those various contingencies that therein is going to come... you know, a better understanding, a more active, proactive activity on their part, and I think that the Park Service will have to deal with that a lot.

Yeah, that's show young up.

Big time.

Are the Wilderness Areas the same way?

You mean people becoming more... seeing them as a touchstone of some kind and then becoming more articulate in their defense?


Yeah, I think so.

I think more and more people... maybe there's more and more consciousness or a sense of kind of something lost already and not wanting to lose more of it and being more concerned about and involved in doing something about it.

I say that, and I'm not sure it's all that much different, though.

There were people who are avid, avid wilderness proponents all along.

I just had a little session with some... several other retirees at lower levels in the Park Service with what they called the Gen X, some Gen X people from the Park Service.

It was interesting to hear the younger people talking about... man, they are committed, and they know and understand things I think a lot of us didn't when we came in.

It's pretty impressive.

Very encouraging, to me.

I don't think we've discussed this.

The Park Service... this says can be said to be tiptoeing into outreach education.

Certainly it's been accused of that.

Providing interpretive and educational information to people who are not visiting parks, may never, or may have already, or may be about to.

What's your view of this effort then and now to the extent you see it now?

The Park Service has such a great story to tell.

125 years, I mean... and what they represent ought to be impart to do young people.

And I'm talking about grade school up through a point where young kids are so impressionable.

Actually, that's one of the things that President Nixon was cognizant of in all reality when he did Parks and People.

In the inner cities where activities are going on.

So I think you can impact within that... there has to be a balance, and you don't want to be just doing those kind of parks... I don't even know whether any other President has followed up on any of that.

But we found both Golden Gate and New York were very exciting kinds of... because a lot of that... with George, but kind of rolled over into my term, and we saw huge benefits coming out of the education of those inner city kids.

Many of them had never seen a tree other than in central park or... San Francisco is a little different.

So, those kinds of educational outreach I would be in favor of.

I think the Park Service has to be somewhat cautious in overextending themselves into areas where it wouldn't necessarily be practical or wise, but the more our young people can learn about the Park Service and the protection of the environment, it will be a positive.

Let me follow up a question to you on that.

Is there a concern that the Park Service is not doing that now?

Or how much they should be doing?

I think the Park Service feels good that it's trying to do something about it, but I think there's a lot of concern about how well they're doing it and how to figure out how to do it better.

And there's concern also that the new kinds of technology that make it possible for you to have kind of a virtual park experience don't become seen as, okay, that's okay for them, that will be enough, and that folks that can only have contact with parks right now for whatever reason by that means don't always have just that to look forward to, that it becomes, really, something in internal in their value system.

And it's...

I guess when I read that question I was thinking to myself virtual reality, and with this whole world of communications that we've got now... I mean, you talk to Bill Gates, Bill will tell you what he did 25 years ago with Paul Allen out of a garage in Seattle and where he is today as probably the richest man on earth, and he talks about the next 25 years... I mean, I think there's going to be scientific... whether it's the computer or virtual wrist watch that, you know... and I think that at some point, and again I don't know what's going on now, the Park Service is going to have to get right smack dab in the middle of that.

And I do know you have dot coms available to go online.

I was impressed with the Discovery 2000, what Harpers Ferry did and what Jerry Rogers has done.

I think those can play a role.

There may be kids... Hobie Cawood would have taken every cent that the Park Service had and spent it in Philadelphia, and... may not have been a bad idea, I don't know.

But it didn't go over very well with me.

So I think there has to be that balance.

Ann served on the National Park Advisory Board when they put Presidio on the docket, and we were out there five or six, seven months ago, within the last six months, and it's a terrific facility, but why the Park Service is running that any more than why we were running Alcatraz, and I didn't... I didn't want Alcatraz.

Let San Francisco have Alcatraz.

You can see who won.

But... it's just my attitude.

I got to tell you one quick story.

Alcatraz is going down.

It's Phil Burton's.

This goes back to my point that I should get up on the Hill and know somebody.

All I knew of Phil Burton was he was a really tough... I'm trying to clean it up.

A tough guy.

So Hobie... Bill Wayland, who was down... and I went out to dedicate Alcatraz.

About two weeks before I flew out and they got a helicopter, and we landed.

And there wasn't anybody on Alcatraz.

But there was a trailer and a guy and had four dogs, and those were the biggest dogs I ever saw in my life, and this guy had a beard, had ear wax coming out of his ears.

I mean, he was the most foul looking person you've ever seen in your life.

And that's my tour of Alcatraz.

Broken toilets.

Because the Indians had just been out there and taken over the island, and the City of San Francisco, you know, sort of thought it was really kind of funny and sending out clothes... and Alcatraz at that point, there were huge piles of just crap everywhere that people had sent out there.

So we were going to dedicate this thing in two or three weeks.

So I said to Bill, "How in the hell are you going to get this thing cleaned up?"

He said, "Well, we're going to get the trailer out of here first, and that guy with his dog, and that's a very good start."

And we came back out there, and Phil had... Bill had a whole program and everything, and it had... you know, we'd been out there for two hours, and being the old advance man that I am, you know, and the President, local congressmen and stuff like that, I just went right through Phil Burton's name, and I thought William was going to have a stroke.

And we got up there, and I said, "Don't worry about it, I'll take care of Phil."

So I got up... so we only had two speakers.

It was Bill who introduced me and then had a little ribbon, and I said, "Now, I see Congressman Burton in the back of the crowd there.

Sir, would you come up and join us in the cutting of the ribbon?"

He didn't come.

And so when I left, I knew that had been a huge mistake.

And it proved later that it was a huge mistake.

Alcatraz, I mean... now, how many visitors a year do they get at Alcatraz?

And Presidio is not even open up yet, is it?

Oh, yeah, there's a lot of use of the Presidio.

It's still in kind of a constant state of transition, I think, but there's a huge amount of use.

A lot of adaptive use of the buildings and a lot of interesting things going on there, including, I think, a lot of outreach programs.

That's what I understand.

You've touched on this and been modest about it, I would say, but there is a question about how the Park Service... what the Park Service could do today to improve its relationship with Congress.

If you'd like to offer any other comments on that, please do.

I would encourage the next Director or whatever the case may be... Bob... I think Bob Stanton has done a terrific job in that regard, but he was at National Capital Parks for a long time.

He's sort of a master at that.

He's glib.

He's quick.

He's smart.

He's attractive.

Janet helps him in that regard.

That would be my model.

I would take that model more than I would take with Hartzog.

George bully whipped.

He had Allen Bible and those guys because he would take them to Jefferson Island and he'd take them to Brinkerhoff House, and he had... can I tell another story right quick?


I go in for my exit interview.

You want to turn that off for a minute?

[ discussion off camera ]

That's very interesting.

And do you think they were smart to reopen?



I would not have reopened.

Joe McDade and Allen Bible, I thought Joe McDade was going to have a stroke when he heard that we were closing the facilities down.

He loved the Brinkerhoff.


There was another guy, McGee, Senator McGee.

Gale McGee from Wyoming?

Gale McGee.

Was it Wyoming or Montana?

Not Montana.

It wasn't Montana?

No, Gale McGee was from... there was a Gale McGee who was congressman from Wyoming in the early '70s.

Stanton could... when I went down there, it was Janet that blew the whistle on this one senator.

What he would do is he would call down and get... get Stanton's office and say, "I'm bringing my wife and kids down there.

I need this, this, this, this, and this and this and this, and my -- "at the Trunk Bay House.

And I'll need a car to pick me up."

And he said, "Then I need a baby-sitter."

So here was Stanton with this rotating door flapping with these guys coming in, and this guy was apparently the worst, and when he and Bob... when Bob and Janet had us over for dinner that evening, we got... heard this story.

That's why they were so happy we had closed the Trunk Bay House because they didn't have to do all this kind of stuff.

I went back, and that was one thing that I think just was more than I could handle as far as the Hill was concerned, and that made me think that I had done the right thing.

We lost a lot of clout in doing that, but that was George.

Well, you know, hear where senator Stevens was when the Alaska oil spill occurred?


Ft. Jeff.

Being treated like a King.

And it didn't do the Park Service a whole hell of a lot of good as far as his attitude toward us was concerned, but that's where he spent a lot of his time.

He was a tough guy.

Tough guy.

You knew that from Alaska.

Did I answer your question about...

Yeah, that's great.

I could see why you don't want that on the record, but I think that's... well, I think it's worth... I think it's worth saying.

On the record sort...

You can clean it up a little bit.

Not as effective.

I know.

That's right.

Well, you can... you can bleep him a little bit.


Let's see.

Well, let's go back... we'll do that piece.

If you feel comfortable with it, I would love to have that on.

I'll clean it up.


And then you guys can interpret when I croak, when I'm dead.

Again, we were talking about ways of dealing with the Congress, and while the tapes were being changed, you told us a little story.

I would like to hear...

You know, when anyone leaves... I assume that other administrations have done the same thing.

When someone left President Nixon's White House, they were called in and given an exit interview.

And what it was, it was a photo opp with the President with the flags of the various services and everything and all the streamers, and so I went in with Bob Haldeman, who was the Chief of Staff, and when the photos were done, went over and sat down around the President's desk, and I'm poised, ready to start taking notes about what I'm supposed to do... you know, a new job, President's appointed me, and first words out of his mouth, he says, "Now, Ron, when you get over there, I want you to close all those VIP houses."

And I didn't really... realize at the time how many of them there were, and he said, "Now, you know what I'm talking about?"

I said, "Yeah."

He said, "I want those things closed.

Where all those congressmen and senators fornicate in."

Well, I'm sitting there and I'm waiting for the next point, and there was no next point.

So that sort of showed... but that's the first thing I did when I got over there.

It should not have necessarily been the first thing I do, because that didn't set me up very well on the Hill, but... I think... again, I've said this before, I think my... if I had to reflect on what I was doing at the time, my first priority would have still been to the Service, to the employees and those people, and then I think the next step... the media never really was ever one of my agendas.

I mean, I wasn't looking for press, good press, bad press or anything.

Because I knew by virtue of my time in the White House that would come.

So there's no reason to prompt that.

And I was never a leaker out of the White House.

So, therefore, other than going on presidential trips and making arrangements for Helen Thomas and Bob Pierpont and Rather and Brokaw who were all covering the White House, we drank a little bit of whiskey early on in the White House years, but after one year, there was no socializing at all.

It becomes... I think that's just a matter of course.

Certainly would be to get to the Hill and get to the various chairmen of the committees and begin to develop some kind of a dialogue not so much with patronage as it would be what's right for the Service.

What do you think are the necessary attributes for a successful Director of the National Park Service in today's climate?

You want to talk about leadership after Dr. Singer this morning?

That was a terrific... I enjoyed that very much.

I'll take a stab at this.

I don't know that the individual... I was glad when the Service went back in and got Bob Stanton, and Ann and I fought very hard up there not only in the White House but on the Hill in that regard.

One, we knew Bob, and he was right there in Washington, and his name had surfaced, and he had already retired.

So if that's the case, let's go for it.

I don't know that an individual needs to come from within the park system.

In some cases... I look back at my tenure being the first politically appointed Director in a hundred years and the eighth as breaking barriers, and I think that's been one of the few ways I've been able to handle it, because I look at my life, and that's one of the few times... not that I failed, but it just wasn't a positive... it didn't end up being a positive... Nat Reed and George had a welcoming reception for Ann and I when we... out at Hains Point, and I was introduced, and I went up and I started to make some remarks, and Ann was sitting down here, and some guy behind her said, "The sonofabitch won't last more than six months."

And, you know, that stuck with Ann.

And it... it... there were those that I felt probably felt that way.

In the final analysis.

But I... if you look at the Directors since that time, I would never have been presumptuous enough to put a uniform on.

I'd already had mine in Vietnam.

I didn't need to wear another one.

And I think they look stupid unless you come from within the system and you've come up through those ranks and you've earned the right to wear that hat and that uniform and that badge.

That's... I don't mean that in any derogatory comments to about my predecessors that had been there, but I would never have done that.

Criteria... one, I think you have to be willing, whether coming from inside or coming from outside, to work your tail off.

There's so many issues, so many complicated issues.

You've got relationships on the Hill that must be identified initially.

Credibility, whether it comes immediately or shortly thereafter, you have to establish that credibility.

I think an individual that has a lot of good common sense, I think that's a prerequisite, really.

A love for the job, a love for what it stands for.

An ability to... to work and help those individual employees within that Service.

I mean, I got out... I got out and drove tractors.

I mean, I was on road crews.

I did as much as I could.

When I got to a park, I wanted to get right down to the nitty-gritty, because then when I came back and a year later when I go into my... the first hearings I went into, I mean, I didn't know... I mean, they were just pelleting me.

A year later I went back in and I pelleted them.

Not all that much and everything, but I just... they knew I had been out there doing my homework.

I would hope never and again would a Director have to go through a lot of that.

But... you know, another thing I think would be helpful in this day and age is someone that understands virtual reality, understands what this computer age is going to be, have a vision... Dr. Singer doesn't like that necessarily, but I think it's so right on target that if you've got some kind of a vision and you can articulate it... I had a sign in my office there, and I still have it, it says to "Hire people smarter than yourself and stand on their shoulders."

It is amazing to me having been 20 years in the business community and stuff the number of CEO's and chief operating officers, chairmen of companies or anything, that don't believe that.

You know, they're either insecure in their own rite... it's just... I think that's very important.

What was your most satisfying moment as Director of the National Park Service?

I read that and I thought about that.

There were a lot.

One stands out probably as much as anything, when we saved the faces of Mount Rushmore.

I got a phone call from the White House that the FBI had discovered that some Native American Indians, Native Americans, had hit a National Guard armory in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and they were renegades off the reservation, and they were headed toward Mount Rushmore, and they had bazookas, M-50's with tracer rounds and others.

I immediately went into my White House mode, set up a command center in my conference room.

Had all these maps brought in of Mount Rushmore, we've got trails coming back down, brought an FBI agent over.

Nat Reed got really pissed off when he didn't know any of this stuff was going down and I hadn't informed him.

But I said, "Now you know, so you can come in if you want to."

Morton was highly offended, which I found out later.

But the call came to me, and I immediately took action.

We got all kinds of activities going, tracing, trying to figure out where they were coming in, and we were led to believe that it was a convoy of militants.

So I got on the phone.

We had hot lines, everything, in the conference room, and the Superintendent, who I can't remember, and it would be fun to remember the name, I asked him how things were, and he said, "Mr. Director, they're just fine.

We just finished plowing the roads."

And I said, "Well, Mr. Superintendent, would you unplow them?"

And there was this long pause like... "Well, I don't understand"... I said, "Put the snow back on the roads!"

And he said, "Yeah."

So the next morning I came in and I'd gone down in my basement to my hat collection, and I pulled out this headdress that the kids had given me for Christmas, or for whatever it was, and had all these feathers on there and everything, and I came in, I can remember walking into the... you know, that hallway going down, and I came into that hallway with the head band on howling "Circle the wagons, circle the wagons."

Well, Norwood and these guys were looking outside their door at who is this guy coming.

Well, they finally arrived within three miles.

They were stopped by the local... you know, police and everything, and it was three vehicles.

There were six women in those vehicles, two old guys, old Indians, and a couple of young ones.

But the cars did have all that stuff in them.

And that was the attack squad.

We never had to worry about losing the noses of the presidents.

The other was I brought in... you may remember, I tried to reach way down into the system... or the Service and identify very bright young people that I felt would be tomorrow's leaders, and I had half a dozen of those sessions in and around the country.

I had three people this morning come up to me and say they were in my very first one at Prince Williams.

And I can remember setting up the tables around and... and I sat on the table, and I said, "Okay, you guys tell me what you want from this system."

And the other thing, when I look at you sitting there, are the people that I think I helped.

Bob Stanton was another one that I took out of the Virgin Islands.

And gave some people a chance.

Rutter didn't like it.

Caskey didn't like it.

Rumberg thought I was right on target.

Get those old farts out of here and get some young blood in here.


And you gave them support after you picked them, too...

I did that.

And we moved you to Horace Albright Center -- Training Center.

It was hard when I went to the Regional Director meetings and stuff because they saw what was happening, and I don't think they were all that pleased with me.

No one ever challenged me.

Caskey was really the one... the one guy that can challenge me and... over a bottle of whiskey in the Sequoia, down in Sequoia.

We had a long night, talked.

Howard Chapman was very supportive.

And I think that probably... saving the noses was a big deal, but watching young people come in, be enthusiastic and then helping them on their way was probably my biggest...

An action or inaction, I guess we've touched on one inaction that you think you would do differently now, maybe spending more time on the Hill, but anything else that you think of that you did then that you might do differently now or not do?

One of the things I was criticized, and you have to go back and look at the Nixon administration, and they set up a... an office inside the White House to... for better... better part of value or to say to get rid of the Democrats that had burrowed, and it was a common practice that we were led to believe, but when you've had a series of one party, and the Democrats may have had that same situation now with 16 years of Republicans, because the easiest thing to happen before that transition transpires on January 20th is if you're the 17 level or 16 level or 15 level, which is... is Civil Service route, and if you duck down into a 13, the same comp and everything, maybe they'll never notice you.

Whereas that top layer was just what the plum book is all about of the 1500 key jobs that a President has, which is what that transition is all about for those 10 weeks.

They set up a task force in the White House and wrote manuals on how when you get in how you dig them out, because they're there to undermine you.

Well, it was a mentality... I don't think it was a good mentality, but you have to go back to when it was there.

So one of the first things I did was, out of my office, I brought in three people, Doug Blaser as my Chief of Staff, Marsha Griswold as my secretary and Julie Rowe who went down to the Bicentennial.

Three terrific people.

They were terrific.

Shortly there afterwards, a young man that had... I had met, had never worked with or anything else but been introduce to do me, was a guy named Tim Austin who had... was... a small college, a Division II All-American basketball player, and he'd been over in Europe with the U.S.A. team, and he came back, he called, and he said, I'm back now, "Is there anything I can do?"

And so I said, "Well, I've got a new job.

I'm not White House anymore.

I'm over at the Park Service."

I said, "Come over and see me."

Well, he was like a kid in a candy store.

So I brought Tim in.

Then I brought in Duffy, who at that point was a young ranger, I don't know how I found... I can't remember that.

He could tell you.

So I had the uniform presence with me when I needed that, and I had Tim, who became kind of my personal aide to help me.

Well, it got around pretty quick that I'd brought my team in and had shut out the Park Service people, although I kept two of George's secretaries.

It was the perception more than anything else.

And within the year I sensed that there was some animosity for that, and Blaser was a tough taskmaster.

I mean, he would... the good guy, bad guy kind of a cop thing, and that's how we worked.

But I said, "You know, I've got to do something."

So the only thing I could think about was "Let's get some buttons."

So I had "NPS Staff" and I had those put on every employee in the National Park Service in Washington, and my symbolism was... and I wrote a piece about it in that little book... publication I had, "Make a Difference," that we're all on the same staff, even though there will be some new ones coming in, whatever... didn't go over very well.

So... but that's the one thing I probably would reflect on.

And the interesting thing is I never looked for any Democrats in the Park Service.

That wasn't my M.O.

You would have found a few of us.

See, I was okay, because at my swearing in ceremony, Ehrlichman, Haldeman, John Mitchell, I mean, they all came to my swearing in.

Of course, you know, here's Nat Reed and... they'd never seen that kind of fire power in their lives at a swearing in ceremony of a lowly Director of some bureau, you know.

And that set me up right there, because for the next... just shy of two-and-a-half years, whatever it was... two years until Nixon resigned, man, they never touched me... they couldn't touch me with a 10-foot pole, and that just sort of danced around me, but once Nixon got in trouble and he was gone, that whole situation changed, including Morton.


You went there through a transition in administrations, I guess...

Well, when I read that, I guess you could... I have some thoughts on it.

There were other transitions...

Yeah, but I... I was appointed in late... late November or the first part of December.

So the transition, while it was... it was not... you weren't changing parties, there was a change of administration inside.

In the meantime, I had been the part of three transitions.

I always recused myself from the Department of Interior.

I did not feel that was appropriate.

I was the guy that went in and fired Sawhill at Synfuels, because Synfuels was like a... it was just... it wasn't going anywhere.

But... and what... what we have done and what I watched Clinton do is they put together a task force, and I think a lot of that came because they came to us and asked how we had done the transition with President Nixon and Jerry Ford... and Ronald Reagan.

We sent task force in that had various disciplines... of course, Washington has got all these guys there, you know, they've been in administrations, they've done this, they've done that, and they all think they're the answer to whatever problem there is in Washington.

It's that Washington fate.

And you'll go into these various departments, and then they'll dissect a department, find out where the positions are and everything like that, find out what the issues are at that point, they do issue books, and they come in, and the President of the United States never sees those issue books.

Now it's diverted down to staff, which is no different than how the Congress works.

So my... my suggestion from my perspective on a Director that is sitting is to duck and be cooperative in any form or fashion.

If this administration... just fast forward for a minute hypothetically.

If Gore doesn't win and Bush wins, if Bob had asked me, and he hasn't, maybe I ought to suggest it to him, I would start right now putting together briefing books on what the issues are, what our difficulties are, where the budget is, et cetera, because that's what they're going to want.

And you're ahead of game when they arrive and they'll never touch you again.

Unless Bob decides to retire this time and they have to look for another Director.

That's my thought on a transition.

And I didn't look at it from the Department of Interior standpoint.

I looked at it from the Director of the National Parks standpoint.

Well, you've really answered the last question, the best advice for the person who occupies the Director at the time of this next transition, which it will be, as you pointed out, even if it stays...

It's not as dramatic if it's Gore because for the most part people will stay intact, unless they decide they want to leave.

I think Babbitt's loving this job.

I don't know how he and Gore... I just don't have those... I don't know... I don't know those answers.

My impression is that Gore and Bruce are almost colleagues, you know, they were... they've been together so long, but I don't know that.

And I don't know whether Bruce will decide to stay.

Bruce has got the means to do it if he wishes, and then I guess it's... I would... I don't know.

I don't know... it would be my recommendation if... if Bob wants to stay on and it was a Bush administration, I would certainly go to bat for him, at least for a period of time through the transition is over, maybe into the next year so you don't have that trauma of changing not only a department but a bureau head and have someone... if they decide to go with someone that's in the system, that's a slam dunk from moving up... the word I've heard right now is Finley would love to have that job.

If that's the case, he hits the ground running probably.

If it's someone from the outside, they don't.

Well, thank you very much, Ron.

You're welcome, sir.

It's fun to be with you and Jim.

Same here.