- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Coen brothers dispense with the dirty language

The Reality Campaign unleashed its latest ad attacking the coal industry, this time with the help of the filmmaking team of Joel and Ethan Coen.

The new ad features a “spokesman” for the coal industry giving a family a can of “clean coal” to replace their regular air freshener. Black soot billows from the can, pouring out of the house as the family coughs and gags.

The Coen brothers maintain some of the stylistic (and existential) sensibilities that are the hallmarks of their many films in the 30-second spot but leave out the foul language. (The Coens’ 1998 flick “The Big Lebowski” used one curse word in various forms upward of 250 times during the movie’s two hours.)

The Reality Campaign, a coalition of environmental groups, has spent undisclosed sums of money on an ad campaign to counter the coal industry’s largely successful “clean coal” campaign.

Leading Democrats have said they support continued spending on developing clean coal technology, and President Obama included more than $3 billion for clean coal research in his stimulus plan.

Ship from a bottle (or so)

Adventurer David de Rothschild plans to sail from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia, in a ship made from 11,000 plastic bottles. The 60-foot catamaran, dubbed the Plastiki, is set to sail on an educational mission about the state of the oceans for about 100 days.

Though the journey perhaps is not on the levels of the trials of Ulysses, the crew of the Plastiki plans to sail the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch, a spot of ocean roughly two times the size of Texas that is cluttered with trash.

Baby, it’s cold outside

Global warming protesters led by Greenpeace USA and NASA climate scientist James Hansen got what seemingly is becoming a routine occurrence around Washington when environmentalists speak up: snow, up to about a half-foot this time.

As friendly as the political climate gets around the Capitol, Mother Nature covered the Capitol — and the Capitol Power Plant, where protesters were seeking to end its burning of coal — with a strong dusting Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Edward J. Markey, two leading Democrats in the climate debate, both canceled plans to appear before thousands of students at a global warming conference at the Capitol.

Former Vice President Al Gore trudged through a tough snow and ice storm in late January to caution members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the long-term effects of global warming. A mid-March snowstorm greeted Mr. Gore in 2007 when he testified before Congress on the same topic.

The HR file

Growth Energy, the ethanol lobbying start-up, picked up two Washington insiders to help push for more ethanol blended into gasoline.

Tom Buis, who was president of the National Farmers Union and a top aide to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, takes the helm as chief executive officer. Former Rep. Jim Nussle of Iowa, who most recently was the Bush White House’s budget chief, also joined the board as a senior adviser.

Growth Energy recently tapped retired Gen. Wesley Clark to co-chair its efforts — which include removing a “blend cap” that has kept the blend of ethanol in gasoline limited to 10 percent across the country.

Tom LoBianco can be reached at [email protected]

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