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Is Bush interfering with EPA decisions?

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You won't hear that from Mr. Johnson, though. Check out this clip on YouTube from Tuesday's ozone hearing, in which New Hampshire Democrat Paul Hodes attempts to ask the EPA administrator if he ever spoke with anyone from the White House about the cost of the pollution standards. For five whole minutes, Johnson, who was under oath, dodges the question of whether he recalls such a conversation, adding that it would not be appropriate to discuss the content of that conversation if it had in fact happened. Got that?

It gets weirder. At one point Mr. Waxman unsuccessfully attempts to squeeze a straight answer out of Johnson about his conversations with the White House. He is interrupted by Darrell Issa (R) of California, who says it is his party's turn to ask questions. Waxman pounds his gavel and raises his voice: "I will have you physically removed from this meeting if you don't stop," Waxman tells Mr. Issa. [link via TPM Muckraker]

For his part, Issa seems unconcerned with how much the Decider gets involved in EPA decisions. Early in the hearing (this part of the hearing was posted on the Oversight Committee's website but has since been taken down), he says that the EPA "openly declares the president's role" in the rulemaking process, and that the president "makes no pretense" that he is not influencing EPA decisions.

Issa cites Executive Order 12866 (though not by name). Signed by Clinton in 1993, the order delegates authority to the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to "coordinate" an agency's rulemaking efforts with the president's priorities.

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