Alabama is home to 96 swamps and U.S. Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, who’s reported to be President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general. One of them is called the Dollarhide, another the Big Girth, and my favorite: Greasy Head Swamp.

Swamp was also a favored word recently used by Trump to describe America’s festering capital city. His campaign promise to “drain the swamp” suggested Trump might rid Washington of slithering snakes, but that was too literal an interpretation, apparently. A swamp is a wetland that is forested, you see, and wise serpents climb trees and wait for the water to rise again.

Sessions fell on the sword of Republican Party political correctness when President Ronald Reagan nominated him to the federal bench in 1986 and he was voted down by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee over allegations of racist comments.

Sessions’ colleagues testified he said of the Klu Klux Klan: “I thought that they were all right until I found out they smoked pot,” and he was dogged by controversial statements attributed to him – including one that he considered the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Defense Fund and the National Council of Churches “un-American” groups.

For his part, Sessions says he was joking, and by today’s standards, his remarks seem innocent as a dove. “I am not the Jeff Sessions my detractors have tried to create,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I am not a racist. I am not insensitive to blacks,” he said a year after attempting to prosecute three black people who eventually were acquitted on charges of voter fraud.

Imagine Sessions’ delight when, after being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1997, he became a member of the same Judiciary Committee that had rejected his nomination to become a federal judge.

The man has instincts. Sessions was the very first senator to support Trump’s improbable bid for the White House, and now he’s one the most powerful Republicans in Washington. If the 2016 election taught us anything, it’s that Sessions’ nomination to the office of attorney general will not be blocked based on offensive remarks made long ago. People who lack a filter between thoughts and words are forgiven now, at best, or worse, lauded as a truth-teller.

Social issues like racism and political correctness are secondary now to making America great again, and science is just another liberal cause caught up in the quagmire.

Literally draining swamps stirs things up, if you believe in science, and adds a lot of heat. Wetlands are nature’s speed bump, able to slow down powerful storms as they come ashore. Draining them releases carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere and degrades the land.

Not to worry, says Sessions. “Carbon pollution is CO2, and that’s really not a pollutant; that’s a plant food, and it doesn’t harm anybody except that it might include temperature increases,” he has said.

Burning fossil fuel feeds the plants, so let the people eat steak cooked with coal, is our new creed. It might sound crazy, but so did the proposition that Trump would be elected president.

Who knows? Maybe Mother Earth isn’t as sensitive to greenhouse gases as we think. Maybe plants and animals can adapt to inevitable climate change. Maybe Facebook or Apple can reduce emissions by persuading us to buy expensive gadgets that make us look and feel cool. Sure, scientists will say the odds of this happening are long, but look who won the election? And who cares if the coastal elites get flooded. They have boats, right?

Wikipedia reports that Sessions was ranked by National Journal in 2007 as the fifth-most conservative U.S. senator. He supported the George W. Bush administration’s tax cut packages that increased the deficit, the Iraq War and a proposed national amendment to ban same-sex marriage. He was one of 25 senators to oppose the establishment of Troubled Asset Relief Program and has opposed the Democratic leadership since 2007 on most major legislation, including the stimulus bill, Obamacare and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. As the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he opposed all three of President Obama’s nominees for the Supreme Court.

“Paludiculture” is one word that describes the cultivation of a swamp to increase its biodiversity, mitigate climate change and protect rare species, but soon there will be a shorter word – our official language now is sound bite. While Washington gets drained by the next administration, let’s hope one of the good snakes is waiting in the trees for the moment we are ready to make America smart again.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at:

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Twitter: dillesquire