Today the U.S. Republican presidential candidate joined Burnett on her show and assured the former CNBC meuf d'argent that his steadfast refusal to release his tax returns is not a sign he has anything to hide.
Rather, the 65 year old former Massachusetts governor claims that he is simply trying to protect trees in his homestate of Michigan, which could be "slaughtered" if the thousands and thousands of pages of requested documents are released to the press.
In the interview, Romney explained his dilemma:
"Erin I'd love to release all my tax returns. I really would. But my tax accountant is in Bloomfield Hills, MI and he sources all of his paper locally...If he releases my tax returns...I could be held responsible for killing 10 maybe 20 of my favorite kind of tree - a Michigan tree. And I just can't do that, Erin. I just can't. Unlike you I have little something called ethics and morals."
Pressed why his accountant couldn't release the returns in electronic format, Romney claimed - implausibly - that he's uses the same accountant his father used when he was a child and that the gentleman is "very old school".
"He thinks PDF is a band or something" Romeny detailed, "He has no idea how to use the Internet. Actually, I think he still uses O/S2. He's just not set up for this. So its either hide the returns or kill trees. And Erin I'm not ashamed to say that I take the pro-life position on this."
Excusatio Non Petita...
Although cynics might assume that Romeny's explanation is highly suspect, there is some reason to believe he may be genuinely concerned about his home state's arboreal well-being.
Romney is known for his love of tree height in his homestate of Michigan, famously commenting during a primary election campaign there:
"A little history—I was born and raised here. I love the state. It seems right here. Trees are the right height"
With that quote in mind, analysts say that his unusual decision to keep his tax returns private could actually be driven by his obsession with that state's trees.
"It sounds like bullshit," says Jerry David, a professor of psychology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. "But people with obsessions can do unusual things to protect them. Maybe he isn't corrupt. Maybe he's just weirder than we know."
Indeed, as the interview drew to a close Romney for the first time in public seemed to show a genuine emotion other than "restrained annoyance", which hints that trees really are close to Romney's heart:
"Erin what you're doing now, calling for these documents to be released. Its hate speech. You're asking me to murder innocent perfectly-sized Michigan trees. It sounds to me like you're calling for a tree holocaust and I think you should be ashamed of yourself."
Romney then walked off the set, and a stunned Burnett started blankly into the camera for about 15 seconds before remembering to go to break.