Mary Peters, who pushes tirelessly to let dangerous Mexican trucks use U.S. highways, for the first time publicly stood near a Mexican truck on Wednesday.
Peters is the little-known Arizonan who now runs the U.S. Department of Transportation. She usually avoids the news media like a bad rash whenever the subject of Mexican trucks comes up. Perhaps she's planning on running for governor of Arizona and knows how much the public hates her pilot project to open our highways to Mexican trucks.
She must also know the program is illegal. The law says Mexican trucks have to meet specific U.S. safety standards. They don't. No drug tests for drivers, no restrictions on hours behind the wheel, no ability to inspect every truck at the border, no accurate records of valid drivers licenses.
How do I know? Peters' own inspector general says so.
That's why she went all the way to El Paso in February to announce plans to let some Mexican trucks use U.S. highways - even though she was a large, pleasant office in the middle of a city crawling with journalists.
In August, when she decided to allow the first trucks to cross the border over Labor Day weekend, not a peep came out of her well-staffed public affairs department.
It was the Teamsters who learned of the secret plan and put the word out. After two days of "no comment" from DOT, Peters finally had someone else admit to a handful of reporters that yes, they were going ahead with it. (For the record, that someone else was an even lesser known bureaucrat, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief John Hill.)
So why did Peters finally come out of hiding on Wednesday and allow news photographers to take her picture next to a Mexican truck in front of DOT headquarters?
She claimed the dog-and-truck show would "prove" that Mexican trucks are as safe as U.S. trucks.
Does the Bush administration think we're stupid? It's insulting to the intelligence of the American people to suggest that a staged truck inspection before the news media proves anything.
Peters' real purpose was to convince Congress to back off its own plan to kill the program.
The House voted to block it 411-3 in May, and the Senate cast a similar vote - 75-23 - in September.
More than 50 sign-carrying Teamsters showed up on short notice at Peters' newser to express their views of her Mexican truck program. One of her flacks asked the police officer who we were.
"The Teamsters," he replied.
"We didn't expect them to show up," she said, and walked away.
The police officer asked one of the protesters why we were there, standing on the pavement waving signs. He told him we didn't want to open the border to Mexican trucks.
The officer shrugged. "I would have expected you to show up," he said.