Donald Trump is not a fan of Mark Meadows’ new book The Chief’s Chief. The former president is reportedly mad at his former chief of staff for divulging a few damning details about his bout with Covid-19, most notably that he covered up a positive test result ahead one of his debates with Joe Biden. The Washington Post reported on Thursday, however, that the detail that made Trump “particularly upset” was that his hair was “a mess” while he was sick in the White House residence.
“This guy is talking about what I look like, in my bedroom,” Trump told a confidante, according to the Post.
Trump certainly is not the only American who would rather not have the details of their bedraggled appearance published for millions to read. It’s quite possible, though, that the former president cares more about how his hair looks than anyone else in the nation, and he never seemed to let the duties of its highest office encumber this concern. In fact, Trump actively leveraged the powers of the presidency to maintain the integrity of his coif — primarily through a bizarre, prolonged crusade to loosen water efficiency restrictions on bathroom fixtures.
“You turn on the shower, if you’re like me, you can’t wash your beautiful hair properly,” Trump griped at an Ohio Whirlpool manufacturing plant last August. “You waste 20 minutes longer. ‘Please come out.’ The water, it drips, right? You know what I’m talking about.”
He first brought up the issue a year earlier, delivering one of the most ludicrous rants of his time in office. It’s worth reading in full.
“We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where, uhh, you turn the faucet on, in areas where there is tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to sea because you could never handle it, and you don’t get any water,” Trump said in Dec. 2019. “You turn on the faucet and you don’t get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping … out. It’s dripping out very … quietly dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion.”
The issue at hand was a conservation standard put in place by Congress in 1994 holding that showers cannot have a flow rate that produces more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute. The Obama administration updated the rule to clarify that this means 2.5 gallons for the entire shower head, regardless of how many nozzles it features. A week after Trump lamented that he couldn’t wash his beautiful hair properly in front of a bunch of factory workers in Ohio last August, the Department of Energy released a proposal to ease these restrictions.
“Shower heads. You take a shower and the water doesn’t come out,” Trump said at the White House in touting the proposal. “So what do you do? You stand there longer? You take a shower longer? I don’t know about you, but my hair has to be perfect. Perfect.”
The Department of Energy finalized the new rules in December, which allowed for shower heads to produce 2.5 gallons per minute per nozzle, while also easing restrictions on other water-based appliances.
“It is a big deal because potentially you have shower heads that are using five, seven and a half gallons a minute, and that’s a lot of water,” Andrew deLaski, the executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, told NPR at the time. “If you have a shower that uses that much water, you’re going to run out of hot water within as little as 10 minutes in the house. So whoever is second in line for the shower is going to get a cold shower.”
DeLaski also noted that consumers were saving an estimated $500 a year on water utility bills because of the standard the Department of Energy had just nixed. Trump had said the standard was put in place by “a lot of people that don’t understand life.”
But alas, Trump’s push to turn the United States into a utopia of unrestrained water pressure has come to an end. President Biden’s Department of Energy on Tuesday reversed the rule and reinstated the 2013 version, again restricting shower heads to producing a total of 2.5 gallons per minute.
It was the right decision, but it also didn’t even really matter. Shower head manufacturers for the most part continued to produced the same shower heads they did before Trump changed the rule. “This was a silly loophole from the beginning, and the department was right to fix it,” deLaski told the Post. “The good news is there was no clamoring for products that took advantage of this, and we can put this whole episode in the past.”
Trump’s rants about water flow restrictions, as is the case for many of Trump’s rants, always featured mentions of “people” who kept coming up to him and complaining about low-flow shower heads. These “people” almost certainly did not exist, as it didn’t seem like manufacturers or consumers had any problem at all with the 2.5-gallon standard. It was just Trump, who probably had a bad shower at a hotel somewhere and decided to mobilize the federal government to make sure it never happened again.
We can only imagine how Trump is processing the news that Biden has callously undone his administration’s hard-won progress on the issue. A spokesperson for the former president did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone.