Tuesday, March 25, 2014

To pay Paul

Blessed and cursed, editorial cartoonists are forever trying to harness one issue/event/person/color as metaphor for whatever issue/event/person/color they're skewering. Bonus if the two collide. So to speak.

Twenty-five years ago, the Exxon Valdez ran aground on a reef in Prince William Sound in Alaska, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of oil, killing wildlife on a massive scale, ruining a sensitive environment, and the fishing and tourism and general economy of the southern state. Despite valiant efforts to top it — even this weekend! — the Exxon Valdez spill remains one of the country's worst environmental disasters.

Twenty-five years ago, Rep. Tony Coelho, a rising star in the Democratic Party and a favorite to become House majority leader, faced intense scrutiny over the purchase of $100,000 in so-called high-yield "junk bonds" (all the rage at the time), and speculation that the purchase also bought Coelho's help for the savings and loan industry (which enraged us all at the time).

Coelho resigned from Congress and his post as party whip, though he was not charged with a crime. His district overlapped with some of The Stockton Record's readership.

Democrats in Congress had become less moored than usual from ethics and civic duty in 1989, and Coelho's troubles were just one manifestation.

What could I say about the spill itself that hadn't already been documented by then? (Bad oil! Bad! Bad!!) But I might have been able to use the terrible spill to bring light to issues voters might want to wonder about.

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