OH, NOW HE HAS QUESTIONS…. For the last two years, Joe Lieberman had oversight authority over the Bush administration, but he chose not to exercise it. Lieberman even backpedaled on oversight he’d promised voters he’d pursue during his 2006 re-election campaign.

But that was before. Now that Bush’s presidency has just one month and one day remaining, now Lieberman has rediscovered the responsibilities of his committee. Sam Stein reports:

In a letter to the Office of Personnel Management, the Connecticut Independent demanded information about the outgoing president’s “eleventh-hour transfers of political appointees to career government positions.”

“At the end of each Administration, there are always concerns that political appointees may improperly convert to career positions,” writes Lieberman. “The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently provided a briefing to Committee staff on the process of converting Executive Branch employees from non-career to career positions, often referred to as ‘burrowing in.’ While I appreciated the information provided at the briefing, I am requesting additional information to ensure that every request to burrow in is transparent, fair and equitable, and free from political influence.” […]

As such, there is a certain irony to Lieberman asking probing questions after his political hide was saved in a closed-door caucus vote. Either he got the message, or he has a growing interest in ensuring that the Bush administration’s influence ends when the president leaves office.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. “Burrowing” is a serious problem with the Bush administration, and I’m glad Lieberman is taking an interest. Better late than never?

Also, Sam suggests Lieberman may be finally trying to prove his mettle to caucus Democrats, or perhaps he just takes Bush “burrowing” seriously. I can’t help but wonder, though, if Lieberman may also be laying the groundwork for a new era of tough administrative scrutiny — which he’ll pursue with great enthusiasm once Obama takes office.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.