When it comes to cell phone coverage in and around Missoula, Verizon has a chokehold, mostly because they have so many towers. That wasn't so uncomfortable when it seemed like the company was trying to do its part to cut emissions or rally around green issues.
Last Monday, however, Verizon Wireless co-sponsored a Labor Day "rally" at a mine in West Virginia called "Friends of America."
The rally included Fox's Sean Hannity and coal giant Massey Energy's CEO Don L. Blankenship as featured speakers. In a short video on his site, Blankenship said, "We're going to have ...a very good time, but we're also going to learn how environmental extremists and corporate America are both trying to destroy your job." The rally included a petition against the Waxman-Markey climate bill and anti-climate change literature.
Ted Nugent—who once did a pretty decent song called "Cat Scratch Fever," but who would now prefer to just talk about killing Obama and Clinton—was a featured musician. Hank Williams Jr.—who did an awkward, poorly rendered remake of his song "Family Tradition" as "McCain-Palin Tradition"— was also there for entertainment.
But what was "green" Verizon doing there? So far, Verizon Wireless has stood by their sponsorship by saying that just because they were there and gave money doesn't mean they support the cause. Uh, okay. And the company's CEO hasn't really redeemed himself publicly.
The Washington Post reports that the company is being criticized by "green groups" and "environmentalists," but from what I can tell, even individual customers are taking offense and dropping service. I know of at least two people personally in Missoula who broke contract, and I have heard several others considering it.
But what's a person with limited cell phone alternatives to do? Go back to land lines? Move? Forget about it? Make Verizon do community service?
"Can you hear me now?" has always been a pretty effective slogan for Verizon. The question now might be, if those who care about Verizon's claim to being "green" speak loud enough, will the company hear them?