The unnecessary ‘jack-booted thugs’ uproar

There was a bit of a stir yesterday on some far-right blogs, which claimed that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called conservatives “jack-booted thugs” in a speech.

That’s not what happened. Politico’s Patrick Reis has the story:

Trouble is, Jackson didn’t level the term at Republicans. Instead, she used it to refer to her own employees, jokingly borrowing language that the EPA’s critics have used to describe the agency’s workers.

According to video of the event Thursday and a transcript of the speech provided by the EPA, Jackson spent part of her speech debunking earlier inaccurate media reports that claimed the agency intended to “triple its budget and add 230,000 new regulators to cut greenhouse gas emissions from sources like — be prepared — backyard grills and cows.”

To be sure, this was a popular lie among Republicans for a while, spread by a sloppy Daily Caller report that turned out to be completely wrong. “A massive expansion was never a possibility,” Jackson said in her speech, “and the people who cited the 230,000 new EPA jack-booted thugs knew that.”

In context, Jackson was mocking right-wing rhetoric, calling EPA officials, not Republicans themselves, “jack-booted thugs.” It’s a label that was popular in the 1990s when Tom DeLay used it to describe the environmental agency.

But the right ran reports, some of which have since been corrected, condemning Jackson for taking “trash-talking to a new level for a senior government official.”

Fox Nation, predictably, ran an item on its front page with the headline “EPA Chief Calls Republicans ‘Jack-Booted Thugs,'” which directed readers to a RedState post.

Republican lawmakers can put those letters calling for Jackson’s resignation back in the file; she didn’t say what she was accused of saying.