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Citizens of the Week, Gulf Coast Edition

Good Citizen of the Week: Dave Rauschkolb

A little over two weeks ago, on the very first post for this blog, I wrote about the discouraging politics of climate. The largest environmental disaster in the nation's history was unfolding, but a serious and focused grassroots push for legislation hadn't materialized. To back up my argument, I said, among other things, that a protest called "Hands Across the Sand"--in which environment

al activists literally held hands on beachfronts, to protest offshore drilling--had attracted only a few thousand people across the country. Other bloggers later suggested I had underestimated the participation (and that, by the way, I was wrong about a few other things).

I still don't know whose figures for participation in "Hands Across the Sand" is correct. (The account in the New York Times also referred to attendance in the "thousands," although it lists no source.) But I do know that, regardless of participation level, it was a terrific idea. It is exactly the kind of demonstration that can move the political needle, both in the public at large and in Washington.

Dave Rauschkolb, a Florida restaurant owner and surfer, thought up the idea and organized it--twice. The first time was in February. His point then was simply to urge a ban on offshore oil drilling. He was already organizing the second demonstration when the Deepwater Horizon exploded and, shortly thereafter, oil started washing up on Gulf shores--the precise scenario he had feared.

I have no idea if he's going to try again. But I hope he does. 

Bad Citizen of the Week: David Vitter

Speaking of states that border the Gulf of Mexico, have you heard the latest from Louisiana's junior senator? Republican David Vitter was on a local radio talk show this week and discussion turned to high school yearbook photos. Via Greg Sargent, here's how the exchange went:

MALE HOST: That'd be cool. Well you know, with Rachel Maddow they had that picture of her...
FEMALE HOST: Looking like a woman.
MALE HOST: Yeah it was really bizarre.
VITTER: [LAUGHS]: Must have been a long time ago.
[Full audio here.] 

OK, this isn't so much poor citizenship as just poor form. But this is a new award and we're still figuring out the parameters.