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Trump isn't yet ready to shift his focus away from toilets

Trump's interest in toilets appears to come up more than one might ordinarily expect.
Image: Trump speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House
President Donald Trump speaks during an event on prison reform in the East Room of the White House, Friday, May 18, 2018, in Washington. Trump and his...

As a political writer, I don't generally have to devote a lot of professional time to toilet-related stories. That said, the issue does come up from time to time.

In March 2011, for example, during a congressional hearing on efficiency standards for appliances, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) lashed out at an Obama administration official with complaints about his plumbing. "Frankly, my toilets don't work in my house, and I blame you," the senator said at the time.

The back and forth continued for a while, before Paul concluded, "We have to flush the toilet 10 times before it works." (Kathleen Hogan, the then-deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the Energy Department, trying to be patient with the senator, replied, "I can help you find a toilet that works.")

Little did we know at the time that this was a harbinger of things to come.

Last year, we confronted stories about former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and his "masculine toilet" business. (Don't ask.) Earlier this year, as part of an odd series of complaints about the Census Bureau, Trump whined, "They go through houses. They go up, they ring doorbells, they talk to people. How many toilets do they have?" Kellyanne Conway peddled the same false claim.

Two weeks ago, the issue came up again. At a White House roundtable on small businesses, Trump declared that the EPA, at his suggestion, is "looking very strongly" at toilets, because Americans "are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once."

Last night, at a campaign rally in Michigan, the issue was still on his mind:

"Now we're doing it with a lot of other things. Uh, dishwashers, and uh, you know. I won't tell you one of the things because every time I tell you they do a big number on it. You know the one I'm talking about, right? Sinks, right? Showers? And what goes with a sink and a shower?[Crowd chants, "A toilet!"]"Ten times, right? Ten times. [Trump does flushing motion while saying something that sounds like 'bah, bop.'] Not me of course, not me, but you. You. But I never mention that."

As part of the same complaint, Trump added that "women tell" him that contemporary dishwashers aren't effective enough, either.

For what it's worth, Josh Barro had a recent report exploring the errors in Trump's thinking on the issue in more detail. Not surprisingly, he concluded that the president's complaints are wrong.