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Salazar Challenges Obama to Basketball Game

By Ed O'Keefe

A formal welcoming ceremony and Q&A session Thursday turned into a basketball recruiting session for Interior Sec. Ken Salazar as he met with the rank-and-file at the department's headquarters.

After some opening remarks, the secretary fielded several questions on department policy and the possible revocation of Bush administration decisions. He seemed to dodge a question about the department's decision last month to allow firearms at national parks, which his Senate office called "sensible." He said he learned to shoot a gun at age 3 on his family's Colorado ranch, has defended the Second Amendment, but knew little about the new policy and would have to review it.

Towards the end of the forum, National Park Service employee Wendy O’Sullivan told the secretary and former Colorado attorney general that her brother, a Denver-area attorney, had once played in a basketball league that included Salazar and members of the office of attorney general.

"Are you planning on creating any basketball Interior teams that might go up against the State Department or Energy or maybe even the White House?" O'Sullivan asked.

"You know Wendy, this could be dangerous, since I serve at the pleasure of the president," Salazar replied. "I will say this in public, that we of the Department of the Interior will challenge President Obama and his White House team to a basketball game."

After a round of laughs and applause, he asked, "How many of you want to play?" Several hands shot up in the air.

Interior would face stiff competition from Team White House, which is stocked with the b-ball-playing president, Obama's personal aide Reggie Love, a Duke basketball alumnus and others. (More on Obama and basketball here.)

But Team Interior has plenty of practice facilities at its disposal, as the stewards of the nation's national parks and most of Washington, D.C.'s most popular recreation areas. Today Sec. Salazar is scheduled to visit the Statue of Liberty, one of the most high-profile properties managed by his new department.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 23, 2009; 6:20 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Agencies and Departments  
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Next: Eye Opener: Jan. 23, 2009


I thought it was time to
'put away the things of a child"

can we please grow up.

We just had 8 years of a president who played with his dog, ran, chewed gum etc we need this nonsense to stop.

get to the adult work please millions of americans are out of a job and need you to get to work, for heavens sake.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | January 23, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Salazar is going to be a great embarrassment to DOI and its agencies. This man seems to be the king of fallacies.

Posted by: justhere | January 23, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"We just had 8 years of a president who played with his dog, ran, chewed gum etc we need this nonsense to stop."

You listed the only things Bush didn't do wrong. Exercise is not a moral failing, and I think Obama has already shown his dedication to making things happen.

Posted by: kshe7 | January 23, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I think Slazar might be able to post up Obama, but Reggie Love would bury him.

Posted by: InTheMiddle | January 23, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I am wondering if Salazar will be able to keep his cowboy hat on while shooting hoops??

Posted by: LoveDCPolitics | January 23, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Everyone needs a good laugh. We are not the ones voted into office...we voted them into office. As long as they move forward and make our country GREAT AGAIN! I do not see a problem about a B-Ball against departments as long as they raised $$$ for the charities.

Posted by: john56jm | January 23, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

God forbid our government show a sense of humor that is not directed at mocking its citizenry for not walking in lockstep with its "leaders."

A healthy, active, competitive and fun-loving example would be welcomed.

Posted by: beach3 | January 23, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Isn't Salazar the guy from Colorado who
wears a Stetson much too big for him? His ears stop the hat from covering his whole
face. He looks like he's trying to emulate
Clem Kadiddlehopper.

(If you don't know who Clem was, ask an older male person you know)

Posted by: dick-x | January 23, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

They've already started doing the work, JohnAdams1, and they'll do a lot more. I don't have a problem with a President keeping physically fit -- a physically unfit body wouldn't cope as well with the enormous stress that comes with that job.

Let Team White House and Team Interior hit the hardwood -- I'll take the President and the points (would YOU post up against him?)

Posted by: WaitingForGodot | January 23, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

As kshe7 noted "exercise is not a moral failing", in fact, it's a very real positive in an obese nation. Re. Salazar's challenge, it sounds to me like he's suffering from the "el baron" complex, so common among Latinos. He may think he's "all that" on the hardcourt, but with Love in tow, our new president will chew him up and spit him out.

Posted by: surfgrad | January 24, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

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