Joe Manchin’s Pipe Dream

by Jim Hightower

Rube Goldberg would marvel at Sen. Joe Manchin’s wacky, convoluted machinations to rig the system so fossil fuel polluters can run roughshod over nature, local people, and democracy.

Goldberg was a master of satirical cartoons, drawing hilarious schematics of convoluted contraptions to do silly tasks. His “Self-Operating Napkin,” for example, involved a spoon, cracker, toucan, skyrocket, sickle, and a pendulum attached to a napkin—all operating sequentially to automatically wipe the chin of a soup eater.

So here comes Joe with his own sequential machinations to (Zip! Ping! Sproing!) push his pet corporate boondoggle into law. Manchin’s Mountain Valley Pipeline would ram a 300-mile polluting pipe through the pristine mountains of West Virginia, into Virginia and ultimately into North Carolina, ripping through farms, communities, national parks, and 1,000 streams and waterlands. The people hated it—and, amazingly, environmental regulators and multiple courts sided with the people again and again!

Time for Joe’s Rube Goldberg act. Late last year—Ping!—Manchin switched from a “No” on a climate change bill to a “Yes,” in exchange for President Biden supporting the pipeline. But congressional progressives rebelled, so their dirty deal failed. Then—Sproing!—Biden snuck Manchin’s boondoggle into this year’s must-pass debt ceiling bill, so—Whoosh!—locals and environmentalists were blown away. Wait though, the federal court that had been siding with people still had a say. But—Zzzzzt!—Manchin and Biden teamed up with congressional Republicans to—Whammo!—shift jurisdiction over the pipeline from that court to one with corporate-friendly judges. But—Screech!—the abandoned court says, “Hold it”—Congress is unconstitutionally interfering in the Judicial Branch’s power.

So, do Manchin and Biden get to stiff the people? Undecided—but they’ve already revealed to the people how corrupt their Rube Goldberg system is. 


© 2023 by Jim Hightower & Associates. Contact Laura Ehrlich ( for more info.

Leave a Comment