(CNN)Rex Tillerson may be gone, but he hasn't forgotten.
Speaking to soon-to-be graduates of the Virginia Military Institute on Wednesday, Tillerson dropped this truth bomb:
"If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom."
You may remember that Tillerson was removed as Secretary of State by President Donald Trump after a remarkably tempestuous year in office -- a period of time during which relations between the two men grew badly strained.
Things were never really the same after reports surfaced last fall that Tillerson had called Trump a "moron" in a Pentagon meeting in the summer of 2017. Tillerson didn't deny using that word, although he sought to shame the press for even covering it. Which means, of course, that he said it.
Then there was the time when Tillerson directly refused to provide Trump cover following the President's "both sides" comments about the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
"The President speaks for himself," Tillerson remarked at the time.
You may also remember that President Trump said more than 3,000 things that were either misleading or totally false during his first year in office -- a rate of more than six mistruths a day, according to the Washington Post. Or that Trump administration senior counselor Kellyanne Conway famously/infamously coined the phrase "alternative facts" to explain away Trump's false claims about the size of his inauguration crowd.
Now. Tillerson and his people will helpfully note that he never mentioned Trump's name in the speech, and that the address was meant as a broad call to fight for truth rather than a narrowly cast shot at the President of the United States.
Don't believe them.
Tillerson is no dummy. He knew what he was doing. The use of the phrase "alternative realities" is no accident. Neither are these lines from the Tillerson speech:
"A responsibility of every American citizen to each other is to preserve and protect our freedom by recognizing what truth is and is not, what a fact is and is not and begin by holding ourselves accountable to truthfulness and demand our pursuit of America's future be fact-based -- not based on wishful thinking, not hoped-for outcomes made in shallow promises, but with a clear-eyed view of the facts as they are, and guided by the truth that will set us free to seek solutions to our most daunting challenges."
It is impossible to read that paragraph and not have the image of Donald Trump conjured up in your mind. Im-possible.
That's just want Tillerson wanted -- and yet more proof that revenge is a dish best served cold.