Old King Coal Has a Very Dark Soul, and So Do His Buddies


These aren’t the best of days for Don Blankenship, whose systematic downplaying of safety concerns as the CEO of Massey Energy helped lead to last week’s deadly mining disaster, and got him named the “seventh scariest person in America.” But by next January, things may be looking up for the hard-charging coal boss: He could have a very close friend in Congress.

Elliot [sic] “Spike” Maynard is running in the Republican primary to take on Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.V.), whose district encompasses the heart of West Virginia coal country. Maynard, a former State Supreme Court judge, has said that his campaign “is about protecting the coal industry, including all the jobs associated with it,” and has charged that Washington Democrats have “declared war on the coal industry.”

Original DVD cover

But Maynard also has personal ties to the industry. He spent part of the summer of 2006 hanging out with Blankenship in Monte Carlo — at the same time that Massey was appealing a $50 million jury verdict to the court on which Maynard sat.  […]  The following year, Maynard voted with the majority in a 3-2 decision in Massey’s favor, reversing the jury’s verdict.

Maynard never disclosed the meetings. They came out only in 2008, when they were included in a motion for a new hearing filed by lawyers for Massey’s courtroom opponents, ultimately forcing Maynard to recuse himself.

The fallout from the pictures hampered Maynard’s 2008 re-election campaign to the bench, and he finished a distant third in the Democratic primary. But he’s remained active in local politics, and how he’s back as a Republican — and talking a big game, charging that Rahall — who’s held the seat since 1976 — is too close to President Obama and Democratic leaders.  Last week, Maynard invited Sarah Palin to visit a West Virginia coal mine.

And how’s that whole Princessy thing workin’ out for ya, Spike? From Alaska Dispatch:

Former Gov. Sarah Palin gave her most energy-policy-infused speech yet at Friday’s Southern Republican Leadership Conference today in New Orleans.To an adoring crowd she spoke of Obama’s “bait and switch” energy policy, which would bankrupt America, about Democrats’ “snake oil science” and “this global warming, Gore-gate stuff.”

She spent some of her speech talking about alternative energy. But most of it was spent on conventional sources of energy: gas and oil and, of course, nuclear energy.

What she failed to mention in any part of her speech was coal.

Not when calling to gut government regulations and cut the number of permits needed to bring energy to market. Not even for a call to prayer for families of the recent West Virginia Coal mining tragedy, which this week killed at least 25 miners. And she was in the South.

This is no small omission. As John McCain’s vice presidential running mate, Palin spent much of her time on the trail accusing Obama of trying to bankrupt the coal industry. Since, she’s been a strong advocate of coal. So much so that she was recently asked to visit a West Virginia coal mining operation by a congressional challenger, former state Supreme Court Justice Elliott “Spike” Maynard, who, according to AP, has a long-standing friendship with Don Blankenship, the chief executive of the tragic mine’s owner, Massey Energy Co.


It’s not known if Palin answered Maynard’s invitation, but he did say that she would be a big hit there. “West Virginians love Sarah because she has the same values we have,” Maynard said.


Much in coal country has changed since then. Coal is now in trouble, as are those who have been calling on lessening government safety regulations on the industry. Now it’s a political hot-button, so much that Palin won’t even use the word. Not even to ask for a call for silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives just a few days ago, because, as is being reported, the coal mining operation failed to follow all those pesky government regulations.

From the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch (January 15, 2008):

HUNTINGTON — The chief judge of West Virginia’s highest court is denying there was anything improper about his vacation to the French Riviera, where he was photographed with a top coal executive who was seeking a reversal on a multi-million dollar lawsuit.


Photos have surfaced showing Chief Justice Elliott “Spike” Maynard, who is up for re-election, in Monaco with Massey Energy Co. head Don Blankenship, in 2006. The photos were part of a motion filed by Hugh M. Caperton in an effort to get Maynard to disqualify himself from a case between Caperton and Massey.

Ten of the photos were filed sealed, and show Maynard and Blankenship with female companions traveling with them, according to the Associated Press.

Maynard was one of three justices who voted last year to reverse a 2002 jury decision in Boone County that awarded Caperton more than $76 million after finding Massey stole a coal contract from Caperton’s business, Harman Mining Corp., and ruined the company financially. The Supreme Court’s opinion was filed Nov. 20, 2007.


Blankenship told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he and Maynard decided to meet in Monaco after learning they would both be in the area at the same time.


A spokesman for Massey said it was a coincidence that Blankenship and Maynard were in Monaco at the same time, and that the two were vacationing separately, according to the AP. Time-stamped photos show the pair together on three different days.


The AP also reported that a month after the Monaco trip, Massey sued the Supreme Court over its policy on recusal requests. Attorneys for Massey had asked Supreme Court Justice Larry V. Starcher to recuse himself from the case over comments Starcher made to the media regarding Blankenship’s $3.5 million in donations to help elect Justice Brent Benjamin to the Supreme Court in 2004. Benjamin’s win unseated Warren V. McGraw, who had typically gone against coal companies in litigation that came before the court.

Both Benjamin and Maynard voted to overturn the ruling against Massey, along with Justice Robin Davis.

(Pictures from the trip available at Herald-Dispatch link above)


Filed under 2008 election, Al Gore, Barack Obama, Congress, Democrats, Global warming, humor, John McCain, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, Sarah Palin, snark, Supreme Court, Wordpress Political Blogs

28 responses to “Old King Coal Has a Very Dark Soul, and So Do His Buddies

  1. writechic

    Excellent movie choice for the parody. Both stories give me the willies. And the title, Mwaaahhh! :-*

    • if there are devils here on earth, they are don blankenship and anyone who aids and abets his putting his workers at risk. as far as i’m concerned, he’s guilty of murder. i wouldn’t even cut him enough slack to say he’s guilty of negligent homicide. it’s out-and-out murder. he knew someone was going to die sooner or later, and he didn’t care. it’s just a cost of doing business to him. the same goes for the son of a bitch in utah, robert murray, who tried to blame his murders on an earthquake. and let’s not forget chimpy and deadeye dick who thought regulations were pesky things that should be ignored and shredded.

      • writechic

        Massey Energy is determined to rape West Virginia into oblivion, and they don’t care who they kill. The Marfork Dam holds back 9 billion gallons of slurry and sludge. The people who live beneath the dam have never seen an emergency/evacuation plan. The Massey sons a bitches really just don’t give a fuck.

        • it’s not just the miners who are in harm’s way. there have been stories for years about how the water there is undrinkable. disgusting stuff coming out of the faucets. there was a guy from the coal miners’ union on ed schultz’s show tonight. he said it’s not just the miners. petroleum workers are at risk, too.

  2. jeb

    There is an immediate tragedy here with the horrible loss of lives in this recent disaster.

    There is a greater tragedy in West Virginia and our body politic where there is such a marked lack of ethics that those on the bench have their seats purchased by scum like this, take vacations with him, Scalia goes hunting with Deadeye Dick and then votes favorably on a case affecting the administration but Massey can scream about recusal because one person on the bench had the temerity to point out ethical deficits. If we can’t get past this mentality that it’s OK to buy votes, we’re headed for doom.

    • it’s just going to get worse now, thanks to the scotus ruling. are any corporations going to support any pro-union candidates? i wonder how many steps backward we have to take before we start going forward again.

  3. Joanaroo

    Well, this should come as no surprise that this guy is not giving a damn about his employees. Hey, he’s doing things the Rethuglican way. Meeting in Monte Carlo, buying elections, threatening to shoot cameramen and reporters. God help the people in West Virginia if they have the same values as those idiots. If this guy is not prosecuted, you’ll likely see more deaths.

  4. Joanaroo

    Let’s hope the God that the GOP has taken for their own has some mercy left and gives these bastards a good cardiac arrest and sends em straight to Hell!

    • i try not to wish anyone dead, though it’s hard not to do so at times. actually, i wish them very long lives, and i hope they are reminded every single day of all the people they killed and all the families they’ve destroyed. oh, and i hope those very long lives are lived in jail.

  5. blankenship has one trump card/get out of jail free card he will play and that will work

    “i give these poor souls jobs”

    watch the politicians run as fast as they can

    • i don’t think so this time. massey energy’s investors are calling for blankenship’s resignation. even the comptroller of new york is demanding he resign, as ny apparently has 300,000 shares of stock.

  6. My bullshit-o-meter is in the red zone. This guy is the King of Coal & he runs the place.

    My solution?

    Make the fine 10X greater.
    Allow safety inspectors to shut it down
    workers get full pay & benefits until the issue is resolved.

    If Big Coal would take a big hit for safety violations, and by allowing the shut down w pay, that would put a stop to the legal appeal stalling they do now.

    They need to hit them where it hurts– in the profits, and protect the workers while doing so.

    Make it safe now, or just pay these people until you do. They’ll wait for your lengthy appeals process.

    The corruption is as thick as the dust in that mine.
    Just happened to be vacationing in Monaco/French Riviera at the same time as the judge?

    Thanks for pointing out the Palin hypocrisy.
    With all her Drill baby Drill chants, she would whore for sale anything she could rip off of “gods green earth”, so that is a lot of freaking nerve to not even acknowledge those who lost their lives.

    They probably got word from their controllers the coal mining topic is verboten.

    Even within the gop ranks (and I DO mean RANK), palin came in 3rd– Romney & Ron Paul got more votes amongst their own in NOLA last week. Newt came in last.

    So Sarah in low on the totem pole, and Romney did not even show up!

    She can’t even win in a contest of proven losers!

    But that’s off topic.

    Let Massey be the new mine canary.
    Let him go down in the mines & see if it’s safe first.

  7. well damn that was a long post!

    • long, but good (that’s what she said).

      huge fines are a good idea, because investors will make sure that there are no violations. that’s not enough, though. since the supremes have deemed corporations to be people, then the head of the company has to be charged with murder and go to jail if convicted. the heads of giant corporations can’t have it both ways–if you want the rights of personhood, they you have to face the same consequences.

      • Right on! If corporations are people, let the lawsuits roll. Massey has the blood on his hands.

        • if he ever does get charged with murder or negligent homicide and is found guilty, watch as the case makes its way to the supreme court. scalia, thomas, alito, and roberts will twist themselves into pretzels trying to figure out how to say that a corporation is not a person, so nobody should go to jail.

  8. Back in the old days when miners complained about safety or 12 work days, the company would hire a dozen “detectives” and start killing everyone in the mining town. So now we just let mother nature do it instead. If this jerk would direct all that anti-union bragging to work on safety, he might make money and have 29 more employees to do it with….and…I awoke to a radio ad that said for only a thousand one can be treated to the Royal Visit to Dallas in two weeks. I’ve seen the registration info at Paligates, and for a mere $75,000 you can rub up against her! And it just occured to me reading the piece that she could be a modern replacement for one of advertisings icons of a hundred years ago, a comely girl featured in many a print ad and poster for the Lackawana RR: “Sarah P…she’s dressed in white…She rides the road of Anthricite!”

    • what really gets me is that he has plenty of money. when is enough enough? he’s rich enough to do whatever he wants to do and own whatever he wants to own. he’s so selfish, though, he has to be in a pissing match with all his other rich friends (or he’s just making up for a really teeny weenie). i would say that i hope he’s miserable for causing the death of so many, but i doubt he has any conscience whatsoever.

      • jeb

        I’m not big on the bible but I believe this is the kind of guy Jesus had in mind when he put forth is parable about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle…

  9. I hate coal, I really do. It’s dirty, dangerous stuff.

  10. The recycled poster is perfect, and the commentary/ quotes about politics in my state are as hard-hitting as they are accurate.

    Even more chilling is the fact that the same Bush appointee for the District Attorney position over our coal patch (WV’s Southern District) let Blankenship off the hook for the deaths of miners at Aracoma’s #1 mine is now in charge of any criminal investigation arising from the deaths of 25 miners in that same district!

    The plea agreement was so controversial that the presiding judge publicly commented that the the sweet deal Blankenship got was “unusual” and the prosecutor never published a followup press release to explain his reasoning.

    Much more at the following link…


    • hello citizen,

      welcome to the raisin! 😀

      my condolences to the people of your state. the tragedy is one that should never have happened. i only hope that west virginians (as well as others) will finally stop voting against their own interests. we need people representing us who will protect the interests and the safety of the population, not their own interests and the safety of their seats in government.

  11. Pingback: Tiger Woods and Big Ben- WTF? : Extreme Political TV on P-SPAN « Political Championship Wrestling

  12. mountaindiva

    oh my gosh…that is so brilliant. i cant believe i just now found this blog!….just what my therapist ordered.

    • hello mountaindiva,

      welcome to the raisin! 😀

      put your feet up, and look around. i’ll locate the cabana boy to bring you your drink. come hang out with the raisinettes. they’re lots of fun, and they don’t charge anywhere near what therapists do. 😉