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Why is Donald Trump making up stuff about the Great Lakes?

Trump claims victory for the Great Lakes' restoration -- after repeatedly trying to kill funding for the project.

Trump claims victory for the Great Lakes' restoration -- after repeatedly trying to kill funding for the project. Twitter

Thanks to his rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan last week, we can confidently say that President Donald Trump is aware the Great Lakes exist.

We can’t say much more than that.

“I support the Great Lakes,” he told the assembled crowd. “Always have.” He glanced off to the side, pausing. “They’re beautiful,” he continued. Pause. “They’re big. Very deep. Record deepness, right?” 

Wrong. Take it from Lake Superior’s ever-sarcastic Twitter account:

As a matter of fact, the deepest lake in the world is Lake Baikal in Russia, as Vox pointed out, and the deepest lakes in the United States are Crater Lake in Oregon and Lake Tahoe in California.

But that’s not even the most egregious falsehood from Trump. The reason he was talking about them was because he had some “breaking news” he didn’t think the crowd could “handle.”

“I am going to get, in honor of my friends, full funding of $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which you have been trying to get for over 30 years,” he said. “So, we will get it done.”

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been working since 2010 to make the lakes healthier and more sustainable. Its goals are to make its fish safe to eat and its water safe to drink, keep invasive species out and keep native species happy.

The problem is, Trump keeps gutting it. Over the past two years, he’s proposed a 90 percent cut to the program, and he's even called for its elimination. Less than a month ago, his administration put forward a budget that would have reduced its funding from $300 million to $30 million. Congress has been going ahead and funding it anyway despite, rather than because of, the president’s stance on it.

Trump not only got the Great Lakes wrong – he got his own budget wrong. Or, at the very least, made a very abrupt heel-turn. If this speech tells us anything, it’s that Trump wants us to be grateful to him for things we already have.