A judge in Thurston County has ruled that discussions taking place on local talk radio should be considered "in-kind contributions that must be reported to the Public Disclosure Commission." In other words, the broadcasting of one's opinion on the radio, in this case for repeal of a gasoline tax, is now considered a political contribution. A dollar value on that opinion, according to the court, must be assigned by the campaign organization formed to repeal the tax.
John McCain must be pleased as punch.
Well, if an overt effort to influence public opinion through the articulation of one's viewpoint - in the old days, we called it politics - represents a campaign contribution, what is this suck-up piece to Virginia Governor Mark Warner found on the editorial page of the New York Times this morning worth?
Without getting too involved in the substance of the Warner campaign ad itself, (a 90 day GED is the answer to our disappearing manufacturing base in Southside Virginia?), let it be understood that this editorial, a transparent effort to promote the likely presidential candidacy of Mark Warner, by the standards set in a Thurston County, Washington courtroom, is a campaign donation and must be declared by the Warner for President campaign - when it is formed.
Look To Virginia, Not China
Instead of trying to turn back time, politicians in Washington should be following the very good example being set by Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia. Seeking to stem the job hemorrhage in rural southern Virginia as the region's textile plants were shuttered, Mr. Warner started creating one-stop worker-assistance storefronts in depressed rural towns in 2002. Beyond helping laid-off workers navigate the maze of federal trade adjustment assistance and unemployment checks, Mr. Warner backed a program to help workers without a high school diploma get a G.E.D. in 90 days or less. He put up incentive money to attract Nascar engine builders to the region. Indeed, the area's love for Nascar has been harnessed: state-sponsored ads tout the G.E.D. program at Nascar races.
So far, about 20,000 workers have gone through some aspect of the program, at one of the 131 centers in the state, Mr. Warner's aides say. The unemployment rate in one of the hardest-hit towns, Martinsville, was still a whopping 10.4 percent in May, but it was 15.7 percent in January 2002, when the program started. (link)
John McCain would probably nod and say this makes perfect sense. But McCain has proven himself to often have difficulty drawing distinctions between reality and delusion.
For the sane people out there, does anyone find this bizarre besides me?