The Simpsons, Duke Energy and the Governor of North Carolina

Thursday, March 12, 2015
Gov. Pat McCrory and C. Montgomery Burns (Wikipedia, Fox)

Life, and politics, can indeed imitate art.


Andrew Breiner at ThinkProgress noted that the co-creator of the “Simpsons,” Sam Simon, who died Sunday, once crafted one of the legendary show’s most biting—and spot on—episodes that wound up foretelling the corporate bedfellow state of American politics today.


The episode from 1990 was “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish.” In it, Bart catches a three-eyed fish in the river near the nuclear power plant owned by the notoriously unscrupulous and greedy Mr. Burns.


The discovery prompts worry in Mr. Burns that he’ll have to pay millions of dollars to clean up the river— until Homer suggests to his boss that if he ran for governor, Mr. Burns “could decide what’s safe and what isn’t” and not worry about his company’s polluting.


Breiner wrote that the joke was not that far off from today’s reality. In North Carolina, a man who worked for Duke Energy for nearly 30 years is now governor of the state, Republican Pat McCrory.


Like Mr. Burns’ plant, “Duke contaminated North Carolina’s water, and was subject to a $99,111 fine, a pittance for a company with $19.6 billion in 2012 operating revenues that gave $300,000 in direct campaign contributions to Pat McCrory and $760,000 to the Republican Governors Association,” Breiner wrote.


And, he added, “that was before Duke spilled tens of thousands of tons of coal ash waste into North Carolina’s Dan River.”


Outrage over the comparatively minor fines levied against Duke caused the state to crack down harder on the utility. Earlier this week, Duke was fined $25.1 million for coal ash contamination from its Sutton Plant near Wilmington, but the state hasn’t required the utility to clean up the mess. Duke is bracing for a bigger fine as a result of its massive spill into the Dan River in February 2014.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

25 Years Later, This ‘Simpsons’ Episode Still Hits Too Close To Home (by Andrew Breiner, ThinkProgress)

“Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish” script (Simpson Crazy)

Duke Energy Admits Guilt in Coal Ash Spill Case (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Duke Energy CEO Wants Customers to Pay for Pollution Pond Cleanups (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Which Companies Helped Fund the Democratic and Republican Conventions? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


D.A. Truth. 9 years ago
He was not the head of Duke Energy. No one would leave that job to be governor .

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