If you ever doubt politics permeates much that is done in Charleston, consider West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's dilemma. Some Democrats appear to think they have devised a public relations nightmare for him.
The trap was set when Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, sent a letter to Morrisey. Perdue is chairman of the House Health and Human Resources Committee.
Perdue is asking Morrisey to mount an investigation of sales of pseudoephedrine, a drug used in some cold medicines and allergy treatments. It also is a key ingredient in manufacturing methamphetamine, a dangerous illegal drug.
So far, no problem. Morrisey, too, is concerned about meth and other drug abuse. He and others in his office have met with law enforcement officials to discuss how the attorney general can help in the fight against illegal drugs and misuse of legal substances.
But Perdue wasn't finished. He also asked that Morrisey take action against pharmaceutical companies that sell pseudoephedrine "in the knowledge that such sales accrue to the benefit of malefactors." In other words, Perdue is hinting that some drug companies may know part of their production of pseudoephedrine is being used to manufacture meth, and may be more interested in profit than cutting off the supply.
Here's why some Democrats see that as an inescapable trap for Morrisey: His career includes work in Washington, D.C., as a lobbyist for drug companies. Some of their executives supported his campaign for attorney general with contributions.
The very political implication is that Morrisey won't bite the hand that has fed him.
Now, that's baloney for several reasons - but it's a thoughtful scheme by his opponents.
First, of course, Morrisey takes his job seriously. If he finds evidence of wrongdoing by drug companies, he'll pursue it.
If such proof exists, Morrisey won't be the only person aware of it. Rest assured, many others in the law enforcement community will know - and someone will blow the whistle.
Which brings up a question: If drug companies are working hand in hand with meth producers, why hasn't anyone produced evidence already? Could it be none exists?
That is where the Democrats can take another shot by simply noting Morrisey's links to pharmaceutical firms, then mentioning that he hasn't taken action against any of them. Lack of evidence won't be mentioned.
It's a sleazy scheme, of course, attempting to put Morrisey in a no-win situation. But West Virginia voters are beginning to recognize such mud-slinging for what it is. Exhibit No. 1 on that: Morrisey is attorney general because he beat one of the kings of the practice, former AG Darrell McGraw.
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Talk about your small worlds:
How is inboard hydroplane boat racing linked to fighting back against the war on coal being waged by President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency?
Enthusiasm for the raceboats is big in the Ohio Valley, in part because of the annual Wheeling Vintage Raceboat Regatta, held every Labor Day weekend. Some of the boats tearing up the Ohio River during the event, including "The Judge," owned by Dr. Dan Joseph of Wheeling, were built by a Virginian named Will Farmer Sr.
His son, Will Farmer Jr., helped craft some of the hydroplanes. He now operates a metal fabrication business in Hanover County, Va. Recently, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a candidate for governor, visited the shop.
There, Farmer complained to Cuccinelli that the war on coal has hurt his business. It seems the company's work for railroads has slackened, because the rail lines are transporting less coal. "It directly affects us," Farmer said of the war on coal.
Here in the Ohio Valley, we sometimes wonder whether the outside world understands the war on coal. But we have friends elsewhere, as Farmer's comment makes clear. And we have a new reason to like the raceboats - especially the Farmer hydros.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Mike Myer is executive editor of The Intelligencer and the Wheeling News-Register. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com