In a press conference yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the White House press corps he will clean up a department that, under the Bush administration, fell prey to ethics problems, including a sex-and-drugs scandal in a Colorado office, as Reuters reports. Then, oddly, Salazar sat down in famed White House reporter Helen Thomas’ seat, as Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, delivered a daily briefing.

“Mr. Gibbs laughed, saying he was admonishing the secretary to not ask any tough questions,” notes The New York Times, before wondering if Salazar had someplace else to be. Apparently he did. Salazar got up and left after 45 minutes.

Perhaps someone told him to read The Washington Post, which reported yesterday that Bush administration officials ignored important scientific findings and risked damage to the ecology of the Grand Canyon when they decided to limit the flow of water to optimize electric power.