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West Virginia's Big Daddy

Massey My Masta

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

Who’s your daddy?

If you live in West Virginia, it’s Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy.

And he never lets you forget it.

Every couple months or so, we get a call from a survey firm.

And they are checking in, just to make sure Don isn’t losing his grip on his people.

Yesterday, I got such a call.

It was from a polling firm in Florida.

The woman said she just wanted to ask me a couple of questions.

She said it would take about six minutes.

Since we get these calls about once every couple of months, I figured it was Don again, checking in to see if the death of 29 coal miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia had affected his reputation throughout the state.

As usual, I agreed to weigh in.

“I’m going to read you a few names that have been mentioned in the news,” the woman said. “For each one please tell me if you have heard of that person or company. And if so, please tell me whether you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of them.”

“The first is Massey Energy.”

Heard of them?

Yes.

Impression?

Unfavorable.

Somewhat or strongly?

Strongly.

Jay Rockefeller.

Heard of him. Unfavorable. Strongly. He’s in the pocket of the coal industry.

Don Blankenship. Unfavorable. Strongly. He’s blasting off the state’s mountains. He puts his miners at risk. He’s a corrupting influence on state politics.

Barack Obama. Unfavorable. Strongly. He’s a corporate Dem. Refuses to stand up to the coal industry.

Joe Manchin. Unfavorable. Strongly. Manchin also favors mountaintop removal. Also a corporate Dem, also in the pocket of the coal industry. The reason why West Virginia will elect a tea bagger to replace Senator Robert Byrd.

John Raese. Unfavorable. Strongly. He’s the Tea Bagging corporate toady who will be the next Senator from West Virginia.

The women then asks me if I’ve seen any Massey ads on television over the last couple of weeks.

I say no, I refuse to allow a television in the house to keep the kids from that kind of corporate propaganda. I admit to her that I broke down and allowed laptops in the house, but tell her that I keep prosecutemassey.org up on my screen and ask her to check it out.

The woman then says she’s going to read me a couple of statements about the coal industry and ask if the statements are true, not true, or don’t know.

Massey Energy puts making energy ahead of mine safety.

True.

Massey Energy fights for the benefit of the coal industry and increases their own profits.

True.

Massey Energy is doing everything it can to take care of the family of the miners who lost their lives in Upper Big Branch mine accident last April.

Not true. They should be cooperating with federal and state investigators so that the appropriate prosecutions can move forward.

Yes, Massey controls the state of West Virginia.

Yes, Massey is my Masta.

But for a moment, Massey couldn’t massage the message.

Impression?

Unfavorable.

Somewhat or strongly?

Strongly.

RUSSELL MOKHIBER edits Prosecute Massey.