Trump said he didn't care about ANWR until someone mentioned Reagan
Flattery works with President Donald Trump, which is one reason why the Republican Party—including the three members of the Alaska Congressional delegation—refuse to criticize or question their leader.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young have proven to be willing supplicants to Trump. So is House Speaker Paul Ryan, who told Trump he has never seen the Republican Party so united as it is now, according to Trump.
Flattery is also, according to Trump's version of events, what got him interested in promoting oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In a self-aggrandizing speech Thursday to fellow Republicans in which he reveled in the claim that Sen. Orrin Hatch has called him a greater president than Washington or Lincoln, Trump said he didn't care about oil exploration in the refuge until someone mentioned Ronald Reagan. The full video is on C-SPAN.
Here is what Trump told his fellow Republicans about ANWR exploration being included in the GOP tax cut bill:
"And ANWR, one of the great potential fields anywhere in the world. And I never appreciated ANWR so much, a friend of mine called up who's in that world and in that business, said, 'Is it true that you're thinking about ANWR?' Said, 'Yeah, I think we're going to get it, but you know.'" He said, 'Are you kidding? This is the biggest thing by itself.' Said Ronald Reagan and every president has wanted to get ANWR approved. And after that I said, 'Oh, make sure that's in the bill.'"
"It was amazing how that had an impact. That had a very big impact on me Paul (Ryan.) I really didn't care about it, and then when I heard that everybody wanted it for 40 years they'd been trying to get it approved, I said, 'Make sure you don't lose ANWR.'"
"But it's great for the people of Alaska. And Sen. Sullivan, Sen. Murkowski are here someplace. Where are they? They are very happy campers."
Someone mentioned "Don Young" to Trump and the president said, "Where's Don Young? He's such a quiet guy."
Trump sees ANWR and every issue through a personal filter that makes it all about him, encouraged in this delusion by Murkowski, Sullivan, Young and the rest of the Republican Party.
An odd postscript to this story comes from the Washington Post, who say that Sullivan said in an interview after Trump's speech that Trump was not telling the truth. Now Sullivan is not about to call Trump a liar, an experienced BS artist, or even offer mild criticism of the party leader.
The Post said Sullivan contends that Trump "there was no doubt the president understood the issue and its importance early last year."
Maybe Trump forgot everything they told him? Maybe he didn't care about ANWR at all. Or maybe he just concocted a better story to make himself the center of attention?