Monday is Earth Day, which is practically like Christmas for folks who’d rather hug a tree than chop one down.

Among those getting into the holiday spirit is Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes . Hayes has been the No. 2 guy at the Interior Department since President Obama took office, and he held the same job in the Bill Clinton administration. Before that, he practiced environmental law.

In preparation for the big day, Hayes talked about scaling mountains and football fandom in the latest installment of the Loop’s Background Check.

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

Deputy Interior Secretary David J. Hayes. (Scott J. Ferrell/CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY/GETTY IM)

Adding compost to my wife’s garden, per her instructions.

What’s the most environmentally friendly thing that you do? 

Drive my wife’s Prius (get the theme?).  

The least?


Which Cabinet secretary (other than your new boss, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell) would you most like to hang out with, and what would you do?

[Transportation Secretary] Ray LaHood, doing anything.  He’s just a fun guy.

What’s your favorite non-work-related Web site/

The New Yorker.

Fill in the blank: People would be surprised to know that I _____. 

Climbed Grand Teton.

What’s your dream job?

Golf teaching pro at Pebble Beach.

What motivated you to go into public service?

There’s no better way to make a difference.

Favorite TV show?


Which character from that show do you most identify with?

All of them? None of them? Don’t push me on this!

What subject, other than your work, do you know the most about?

Notre Dame football (long-suffering fan).

What’s the best job you ever had?  

This one — I liked it so much, I came back for more!

Fill in the blank: I’m scared of _____.

Snakes — particularly pythons and the invasive species that are found in the Everglades

What’s one word you wish people would use to describe you?


You can draft one person in the private sector to come work for the federal government. Who would it be, and what would you have that person do?

Warren Buffett, to fully fund our nation’s parks, wildlife and conservation programs!

Background Check is a Loop feature in which we grill various government types about their lives on and off the clock. Please send suggestions for future subjects to intheloop@

Name that GOPer

In Washington, people tend to announce themselves in understated ways. A small lapel pin denoting a member of Congress, for example, or a discreet brass sign gracing a lobbying shop.

So we were surprised to hear reports of a car spotted around Washington bearing the none-too-subtle Virginia vanity license plate “GOP SPIN.”

Our spy tells us the car is a light-colored sedan driven by a blond woman. Hoping to identify the driver, we contacted some prominent Republican PR types. They claimed not to know. (Used to be, a reporter could just ask a friendly member of law enforcement to look up a plate for you, but they’re less willing to do that in this age of digital fingerprints.)

And so it remains a mystery — one we’re hoping Loop fans might help us solve. Know whose wheels they are? Or are they yours? E-mail your tips (or confession) to intheloop@

No crying in confirmation

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has advice for Senate Democrats griping about the Senate’s pace on President Obama’s judicial nominations. His counsel goes something like this: stop yer whinin’.

We paraphrase, but not by much. His exact words during debate on Thursday? “Quit crying.”

The Senate was preparing to approve two federal district judges, Analisa Torres and Derrick Kahala Watson, and Grassley turned the subject to a favorite partisan battle — the one over whether Obama’s judicial nominees are getting slow-walked in the Senate.

“I get tired of these crocodile tears being shed,” Grassley thundered. “So quit crying.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) had a slightly less folksy take.

“I share the senator from Iowa’s perplexed attitude about our friends’ concerns about nominations,” he said.

A Bostonian’s grief

Secretary of State John Kerry kicked off a day of testimony on Capitol Hill on Thursday with a tribute to those grieving in Boston at a service for the victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

“It is no secret that my heart and head are in Boston today with the president and a lot of friends,” Kerry told his former colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He appeared emotional as he praised the “remarkable outpouring” of goodwill following the bombings, from runners who finished the marathon and ran to the hospital to donate blood, to the New York Yankees fans who honored Boston at a game on Tuesday.

And he vowed that next year’s marathon would be bigger and better.

“We will celebrate that spirit,” he said.

With Emily Heil

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