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    Prepare to duck

    01/21/2003
    on 1/21/03.

    Something called the Citizens for a Sound Economy begins a media blitz in West Virginia today, lobbying against what they call "Gov' Wise's Canadian Healthcare Proposals."

    They announced it Thursday with the kind of overkill and hype that often makes it difficult to take a well-intentioned, valid cause seriously.

    From here, it looks like CSE intends to make this economy at least partially sound by spending as much money as it can to get out its message, even when most of that spending appears needless. This is the kind of lobbying that fosters cynicism in newsrooms.

    First came the "Canadian Healthcare First-Aid Kit," delivered here via overnight service. Inside the 16.51 cm by 24.13 cm (it's Canadian, so the dimensions are metric; if you don't want to do the math, that's 6 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches) box are aspirin, first-aid cream, antacid tablets and a bandage.

    Also included is a news release with a contents list for the box that is different from what actually was included. The release said "Alka Seltzer" would be in there; it wasn't.

    These citizens apparently don't let facts get in the way of an overnight publicity mailer.

    They followed that up with an e-mail that took seven sheets of paper to print. They followed that up with a long-distance phone call to say the same thing a third time.

    See why the words overkill and hype are used above?

    Based on the news release, CSE has gone to all this trouble to urge West Virginians to "demand that Gov. Wise: 1) stop advocating for a Canadian-like healthcare system in West Virginia; and 2) put an immediate halt to the secretive and discriminatory Preferred Drug List development process. West Virginians should also demand that any PDL process include adequate public representation and that relevant documents and materials should be open to public scrutiny."

    Uh ... Huh.

    It's efforts like this one that leave so many people convinced that "lobbying" is actually a four-letter word.

    CSE is sending every West Virginia legislator a package similar to the one delivered Thursday to The Dominion Post. You can bet your CSE bandage that they'll also send them all e-mails, and they'll also call them all.

    What they did with state media Thursday probably was a test run for the real event Friday, when everything had to go off without a hitch to impress the delegates and senators.

    Whatever. This kind of grandstanding is laughable, and its cost is ludicrous. But if you disagree, fire up the ol' Web browser and point it to www.cse.org. There, you can add your own online donation to the CSE bankroll.

    Who knows? Maybe you'll get some aspirin, eh?!