Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Washington Post: High Electric Prices Worry Coal Group

And Kathleen Parker disses the South

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) has apparently persuaded at least one Washington Post reporter and his editors that their principle concern in opposing climate change legislation is worry that a "reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions ... would drive the price of electric power too high." This unchallenged assertion appears in an otherwise useful story ("Coal Group Reveals 6 More Forged Lobbying Letters") in today's Post. Readers who believe that the coal industry, which cannot at this time actually deliver "clean" coal, is more concerned with the possibility that decent climate change legislation would reduce U.S. reliance on coal are encouraged to stick to that conclusion.

That flaw aside, the article's value lies in the picture it paints of an industry lobbying effort that wants to appear grassroots is not only astroturf, it's fraudulent astroturf. In a welcome observation, reporter David Farenthold observes:
"This saga of modern Washington -- in which an "American coalition" claiming 200,000 supporters still relies on a subcontractor to gin up favorable letters -- was set off by debate in the House over the climate bill."

According to the story, ACCCE, the coalition in question, hired Hawthorn Group, a public relations firm, which hired Bonner and Associates, the firm that actually produced at least a dozen forged letters pretending to represent the opinions of constituents and local organizations allegedly opposed to the greenhouse gas legislation. The letters were sent to three members of the House before the vote on the bill.

A spokesperson for Bonner blamed a "temporary employee who worked for us for 7 days [who, like Lee Harvey Oswald] acted alone." Hawthorn blamed Bonner & Associates, while ACCCE announced that it was "outraged" by the fraud.

In "A Tip for The GOP: Look Away" conservative columnist Kathleen Parker blasts continued Republican reliance on a Southern strategy that is turning the GOP into a regional party. The column, which is likely to draw real fire from the right, ends dramatically. Republicans, Parker wrote, ought to "drive a stake through the heart of old Dixie."

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