AKA Manuel A. Luján, Jr.
Birthplace: San Ildefonso, NM
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: Hispanic
Sexual orientation: Straight
Party Affiliation: Republican
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: US Secretary of the Interior 1989-93
Upon taking office, President George H.W. Bush appointed former New Mexico Congressman Manuel Luján to be his Secretary of the Interior. In so doing, Bush placed an indifferent buffoon in a position of unparalleled authority over the nation's conservation policies. He ultimately proved to be an even worse choice than Reagan appointee James Watt, whom Luján ardently supported while in Congress.
Luján appeared to revel in his own ignorance on conservation matters, eagerly sharing his lack of knowledge with the press and outsiders. His expressed belief in Creationism, not evolution, shaped his view of the nation's wildlife: "I believe that man is at the top of the pecking order. I think that God gave us dominion over these creatures, not necessarily to serve us [...] I just look at an armadillo or a skunk or a squirrel or an owl or a chicken, whatever it is, and I consider the human being on a higher scale. Maybe that's because a chicken doesn't talk."
During his first press conference, he learned from a reporter that mining royalties are paid on oil and gas, but not minerals. "We don't get any money?" was the Secretary's response. "Strike whatever I might have said about all that. I didn't know what I was talking about."
In April 1989, after the Exxon Valdez tanker spill off the coast of Alaska, Secretary Luján shared his recommendation for cleaning up the oil to USA Today: "The fishermen are the most effective way. They're going out there with scoops or buckets, filling them up, bringing them back to shore and selling them to Exxon for $5 a bucket."
In February 1990, Secretary Luján made his infamous visit with several local officials to Petroglyph National Monument outside Albuquerque. There, in front of the "Dancing Kachina" petroglyph, the Secretary took out a pocketknife and scratched one of the rocks. Stunned park employees had to ask Luján to desist.
Newsweek speculated in November 1990 that the "gaffe-prone, underworked" Interior Secretary was about to quit his post. Wishful thinking. Actually, Luján stuck it out to the bitter end of Bush's first -- and only -- term. As a matter of fact, Secretary Luján's final act in office was to issue an order five minutes before President Clinton was sworn into office, granting $170,000 in bonuses to 12 members of his senior staff. The memo, addressed to the federal Office of Personnel Management, was dated January 20, 1993 11:55am.
Fish and Wildlife Service executive director Amos Eno told a story about Chuck Yeager, during the agency's annual dinner in October 1999. Years ago, apparently Eno and Yeager had appealed to President Bush to get Luján to lay off Fish and Wildlife. Eno shared Yeager's colorful comment with the audience: "I hope there are no Hispanics in the room. [...] He said, 'Mr. President, get that damned chile-eater off the foundation's back.'"
Father: Manuel A. Luján
Wife: Jean (three sons)
High School: St. Michaelís High School, Sante Fe, NM
University: St. Maryís College, San Francisco, CA
University: BA, College of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM (1950)
US Secretary of the Interior (1989-93)
US Congressman, New Mexico 1st (1969-89)
Benevolent & Protective Order of the Elks
Knights of Columbus Grand Knight
National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters
Heart Attack 1986
Heart Attack 1992
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