Travels With Mitch

Stalking Mitch McConnell through coal country, one thing is clear: When I say Mitch, Mitch says nothing. 

Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn

Story From Louisville Magazine

It’s 9:35 in the morning on Aug. 7, and I am late. There isn’t a soul in the office at Whayne Supply. Desks empty, papers abandoned in mid-scrawl, phones silent. It’s as though the Rapture has sucked heavenward all the good people of Corbin, Kentucky, about 40 miles from the Tennessee border. Nobody mans the front desk. That alone feels like an invitation, so I wander in. As I advance, I see two men to my left. I expect them to yell, “Get out of here!” They don’t. They don’t seem to care. I push through a door and into a warehouse. And now I hear voices. The farther I walk, the louder the voices. The farther I walk, the brighter the light. Finally, I reach a large room at the end of the warehouse.

I am entering the presence of Senator Mitch McConnell.

Maybe 100 people, mostly men, stand around a chunk of coal the size of a pygmy hippo. It catches the light and glitters seductively, displaying a dazzle every bit as beguiling as that other carbon product, although this one is not quite ready for an engagement ring setting.

A young woman yells (young women, I’ll come to learn, are always yelling), “When I say team, you say Mitch.





“When I say Kentucky, you say coal. Kentucky!”




That night, when I bed down in an overpriced Holiday Inn Express in Hazard, the chant will ring through my dreams. I will have heard it 100 times or more. Maybe 1,000, with occasional variations:

“When I say Mitch, you say coal!”





No chants are unprompted. No enthusiasm is unaided by the ample voice of some young female campaign worker.

I ponder starting my own chants.

“When I say ketchup, you say tomato!”




But I don’t. There are more serious matters at hand.

READ THE REST: fullmitch


  1. Great article. How certain are you that the McConnell people won’t be calling you to work in their press relations office?

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