Stepp, right, at a Tea Party rally in 2012. Image via AP.

A run-of-the-mill news item about a Wisconsin mom who spied on her daughter’s driving test has blown the lid off a thrilling caper of mystery and deception centered around a crazed federal employee who lives a double life: one, as a woman with one nose; and another, as a woman with a slightly different nose.

It was a classic case of mom stuff: as reported by the Chicago Tribune, in 2011 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Cathy Stepp wore sunglasses and a fake nose to track the route in order to help her daughter Hannah pass the test.

Hannah did pass.

But the jig is up.

In December 2017, the EPA announced Stepp’s appointment as EPA Region 5 Administrator. In her previous tenure as Department of Natural Resources Secretary, Stepp removed scientists and science explaining human causes of climate change on the DNR’s website, so Stepp asked Hannah to introduce her to the Chicago office in order to “humanize her,” in the Tribune’s words.

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So Hannah told this little anecdote.

And then, according to the Tribune, Hannah added:

“She did not know where her mother got the false nose but that she ‘always has it with her.’” Always.

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The purpose of Cathy Stepp’s alter ego is unknown; Hannah’s step-sibling/partner-in-crime supposedly held back 20 years and took all her same high school classes? An unidentifiable Madison-area criminal on the loose? Or an existential expression of life, briefly liberated from the experience of existing as Cathy 1?

Stepp also believes that climate change is up for debate.

Crazy.

UPDATE: When asked for comment about the Environmental Protection Agency administrator’s prosthetic nose, the EPA provided Jezebel with the same statement which was published in the Chicago Tribune:

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“This was a lovely opportunity for my daughter to help me introduce myself to my new colleagues. She told an exaggerated, humorous story to poke a little fun at me. It surprises me that anyone would take it otherwise.”