His expertise? Climate change.

He defrauded the feds out of nearly $900,000 in salary and expense, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in first-class airfare and high-end hotels that more than doubled his per diem limit but were somehow approved by the EPA anyway. A Twitter pal calls it the worst case of Govtfluenza ever.

In September, [John] Beale, who served as a “senior policy adviser” in the agency’s Office of Air and Radiation, pled guilty to defrauding the U.S. government out of nearly $900,000 since 2000. Beale perpetrated his fraud largely by failing to show up at the EPA for months at a time, including one 18-month stretch starting in June 2011 when he did “absolutely no work,” as Kern, Beale’s lawyer, acknowledged in his court filing.

To explain his long absences, Beale told agency officials — including [EPA administrator Gina] McCarthy — that he was engaged in intelligence work for the CIA, either at agency headquarters or in Pakistan. At one point he claimed to be urgently needed in Pakistan because the Taliban was torturing his CIA replacement, according to Sullivan…

In fact, Beale had no relationship with the CIA at all. Sullivan, the EPA investigator, said he confirmed Beale didn’t even have a security clearance. He spent much of the time he was purportedly working for the CIA at his Northern Virginia home riding bikes, doing housework and reading books, or at a vacation house on Cape Cod

Nor was that Beale’s only deception, according to court documents. In 2008, Beale didn’t show up at the EPA for six months, telling his boss that he was part of a special multi-agency election-year project relating to “candidate security.” He billed the government $57,000 for five trips to California that were made purely “for personal reasons,” his lawyer acknowledged. (His parents lived there.) He also claimed to be suffering from malaria that he got while serving in Vietnam. According to his lawyer’s filing, he didn’t have malaria and never served in Vietnam. He told the story to EPA officials so he could get special handicap parking at a garage near EPA headquarters.

Despite an internal investigation and looming prison sentence, some of Beale’s more slow-witted pals at the EPA — who are crafting America’s environmental policy as I write this — apparently still believe that he’s a spy and is simply choosing to “take one for the team” by accepting jail time in order to preserve the secrecy of CIA operations in the field. Don’t underestimate a fool’s willingness to protect his ego by willingly continuing to be fooled. And the punchline is, if Beale hadn’t pushed his greed to an even more absurd length, he’d probably have gotten away with it. He threw a big retirement party for himself aboard a yacht in September 2011; six months later, his boss discovered that he was still on the payroll and the resulting probe uncovered that … he wasn’t officially retired. He was still collecting checks. Apparently, for whatever reason, the guy decided to stop using his CIA nonsense as an excuse not to show up to work and just … fake-retired instead. If he’d quit while he was ahead and retired in 2011 for real, there never would have been an investigation. Although I guess you could look at it the opposite way too: If he’d only concocted a story that was closer to his field of expertise, he could have carried on forever. Had he told them he was hard at work perfecting the ultimate computer model of global warming at his secret home laboratory but that it just wasn’t ready for anyone to see it, they’d probably have given him a raise. As it is, some true-believing moron who worked with him at the EPA is going to end up visiting Langley some day and stenciling an extra star on the wall of honor, Carrie-Mathison-style.

I can’t lie: I feel a certain grudging admiration at the sheer balls it took to pull this off. Looking forward already to the 2016 Hollywood version in which Beale really is a CIA agent working for free under deep cover on Obama’s orders to save the planet from melting ice caps in the nick of time.