WASHINGTON—Officials from the Interior Department hastily assembled a press conference Thursday after the government agency was reportedly swindled out of an estimated $18 million by a smooth-talking con gopher. “My staff found the little guy burrowing along in Rocky Mountain National Park, and we started to fall for this whole sob story about all these critical threats to his natural habitat,” said outgoing department head Ken Salazar, admitting to reporters that he had personally been moved to tears by the story of the Northern pocket gopher’s supposed day-to-day struggles with nonindigenous predators. “Later, when we sent our guys to visit the hole he lived in, it had been emptied out, and the conniving rodent had disappeared with millions in endangered-species funding. For all we know, that son-of-a-bitch gopher is halfway to Aruba by now.” Salazar added that he hasn’t felt this betrayed since a 2009 scam in which he purchased more than $4 million worth of bogus time-shares from a copse of disreputable pine trees.