The coal industry is pretty good at busing in supporters — and greatly misinforming them — in the state of Kentucky when they need to make a big public demonstration.
But online grassroots support? That type of astroturf by the industry is a little less sophisticated.
Last night Rachel Maddow highlighted the outpouring of support for coal ash — which is totes safe — on a petition at the White House’s website, especially from Aurora, Colo. That’s also the home of the American Coal Ash Association. And those petition signers from Aurora… they have some very interesting names:
This petition has 5,402 signatures, which earned it a response from the assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. But when the group Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) looked at the petition, staffers noted that hundreds of the signatures were in Chinese characters. That seemed weird, so they hired a Mandarin-speaking translator to look it over. He found that many of the Chinese words weren’t names at all, but were foods, animals, phrases involving the word “handsome,” or solicitations to visit China. That included:
Steamed Bun Older Sister, Steamed Bun Little Sister, Small Steamed Bun, Big Steamed Bun, Big Bear, Big Grey Wolf, Little Duck, Little White Rabbit, Yellow Tiger, Come to China Big, Come to China Cat, Come to China China, Come to China Donkey, Come to China Little Girl, Handsome Six, Handsome Eight, Handsome Good Looking, Handsome Dragon, and the Most Handsome Guy.
This is what coal democracy looks like!
Here’s the full segment from Rachel Maddow last night: