Coal Tattoo

Well, folks, only a week to go now before Election Day … and I thought I would point out that our races here in West Virginia are not the only place where coal and the climate bill are playing a role.

As a Wall Street Journal online story pointed out yesterday, Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., is under fire for voting in favor of the Waxman-Markey climate bill that passed the House last year:

Rep. Rick Boucher (D., Va.) took a risky bet when he voted last year for a cap-and-trade bill to reduce greenhouse gases. Now, the decision is coming back to haunt him.

Hoping to unseat Mr. Boucher in Virginia’s 9th District, Republican candidate Morgan Griffith is hammering away at the congressman’s vote on the cap-and-trade bill.

Mr. Griffith characterizes Mr. Boucher’s vote as a betrayal of the coal industry and the mining companies that provide much-needed jobs in the district. Unemployment in 9th District counties has reached 9.1%, which is higher than the state average of 7%, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

Keep in mine that American Electric Power supported the Waxman-Markey bill, and the United Mine Workers union said the legislation ensured the future of the coal industry. And Boucher himself offered a detailed discussion of what was in the bill that was good for coal:

This is a responsible measure. It is carefully balanced; it reduces greenhouse gases by 83 percent by the year 2050 as compared to 2005 levels; it keeps electricity rates affordable; it enables coal usage to grow as the demand for electricity increases nationwide; and it opens the door to a more secure energy future and the creation of millions of new jobs, innovating, deploying and exporting to the world the new, low-carbon-dioxide-emitting technologies that will power our energy future.

This is the part of that story that really jumped out at me:

“The cap-and-trade bill has been enormously unpopular in places like the 9th district because it appears—like it or not—to be anti-coal,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

So … like it or not, politics — and in large part, political journalism — is not about facts or truth, but about how things appear. It’s all about the race-horse coverage, and about which “message” is winning voters, not whether that message has any basis in fact.

I guess this is no big news, but there it is, anyway.