Five guys Ken Salazar should offer to punch out

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Ken Salazar.
Uneasy hangs the cowboy-hatted head of the man in charge of one-fifth of the land mass in the United States. The strain of running the Department of the Interior seems to be catching up with Ken Salazar, who offered to "punch out" a reporter last month in response to a question about Interior's scandal-riddled program for managing wild horses.

Salazar later apologized to Dave Philipps of the Colorado Springs Gazette, whose piece for ProPublica about how thousands of supposedly "protected" horses sold by the Bureau of Land Management have disappeared (and were probably sent to slaughterhouses) has triggered a federal investigation. But persistent criticism of the Interior Secretary from the energy industry on one side and environmentalists on the other has fueled speculation that he might be one of the Cabinet members to hit the road when the Obama administration reshuffles the talent for its second term.

Salazar has responded (in this Denver Post article and elsewhere) that he digs his job and may well hang around, despite the usual euphemistic "family pressures" to head back to the ranch. By his own accounting, he's made significant progress in cleaning up the ethical quagmires at Interior left over from the Bush years , revamping offshore drilling regs in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and so on, but there's still plenty to be done.

Still, if Salazar is going to continue to ride herd over one of the most ornery and confusing bureaucracies ever devised, he's going to have to find more productive ways of channeling his anger and frustration. The next time he's feeling punchy, here are some more deserving candidates to consider for a possible jab-jab-cross combination.

Mongo punches out a horse.
5. Tom Davis.Philipps's story focuses on Davis, a Colorado livestock hauler who's purchased at least 1,700 wild horses from BLM since 2009 for as little as $10 a head -- and declined to provide any proof of their current whereabouts. Even more embarrassing, from Salazar's perspective, is that Davis operates out of the Secretary's beloved San Luis Valley; they're practically neighbors. If Davis can't establish that his purchases found good homes, maybe Salazar should see if Davis, an advocate of slaughterhouses, wants to swap some horsemeat for a knuckle sandwich.

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He has the, " I'm needed back on the ranch . ", excuse he 'believes' to save face with, once he is RAN !

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