CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- What with big corporate money buying underhanded political consultants and open-handed TV stations, it has become quite easy for them to exploit Lincoln's admonition about fooling most people for a while. They don't care if they fool all of the people all of the time. They just need to dupe enough suckers on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even-numbered years. Their ultimate object is to "do business" without any restriction on their underhanded ways.
Here in West Virginia, for decades, sat an Attorney General who had done more for West Virginia and West Virginians than all his predecessors combined. Darrell McGraw generated or joined in lawsuits that brought hundreds of millions of dollars into the state treasury from companies that had pillaged us without restraint and picked our pockets since time immemorial.
He created a Consumer Protection Division within the AG's office to shield little folks from misleading and outright lying peddlers who can't sell their schemes and shoddy wares by telling the truth. He dropped the hammer on unscrupulous moneylenders, crafty exploiters of the elderly and various snake oil hucksters. He made all those scoundrels angry because they could no longer just do West Virginians as they pleased without consequences. So, rather than just becoming like that majority of decent people who run honest businesses, they vowed he had to go, by hook or by crook -- which is their business model. The challenge for their smoke and mirrors ad-makers was, how do you defeat someone who has done so much for so many?
Answer: Make it rain horse manure.
Having no real issues, they bombarded us with attack ads telling us he had bought advertising "trinkets." Of course, they omitted that, because of his actions, hundreds of millions poured into the state treasury and huge untold sums were returned to West Virginians whose pockets had been picked. And that the total amount spent for advertising consumer protection was, by comparison, parking meter change.
Years ago, I received those two such items. My wife keeps them refilled with my daily medications. Thus, I am reminded to take them each morning, but not to take them more than once. They are useful, practical medical assistance devices and we appreciate them very much. They sure as hell aren't "trinkets" nor did they "buy" my vote.
Calling that consumer protection telephone number printed right there on those pill caddies convinced me his office was doing a great job. In 2002 they helped me get the "premiums" back from a company that sold us "health insurance" which, when I later filed a claim, turned out to be a "health savings plan" that, instead of paying interest on our money, took a "management fee" for holding it in their account. I demanded a refund. They wouldn't. The Attorney General's office demanded they return our money, and they did.
In 2011, we bought airline tickets that included travel insurance. I had a medical problem while overseas which hospitalized me, causing us to have to cancel our return tickets. Our loss and additional travel cost was over $4,000. We filed a timely claim. The insurance company sent us $200 and said that was it, period. I demanded they pay the full claim. They wouldn't. Mr. McGraw's office insisted they get serious. We settled for $2,900.