Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke apparently missed an important history lesson: loyalty oaths, a relic of the McCarthy era, went away a half-century ago for good reason. They are un-American.

If you missed the story, Zinke, speaking to petroleum industry executives Monday in Washington, D.C. proclaimed that nearly a third of his employees aren’t loyal to President Donald Trump. According to an Associated Press account, he went on to compare the Department of the Interior to a pirate ship that captures “a prized ship at sea, and only the captain and the first mate row over” to finish the mission, and he promised a “huge” staff shakeup to expedite approval of drilling and other resource extraction on public lands. Zinke’s goal is disturbing but not surprising. However, his apparent misunderstanding of the role of federal employees is startling. Most Interior employees work in non-political jobs. They are land managers, scientists and law enforcement officers responsible for national parks, wildlife refuges and other federal land. Zinke owes them an apology. Thumbs down.