I suppose it isn’t surprising that the fossil fuel industry is populated with sociopathic sleazeballs, given that even those in its most senior ranks went in aware that their business model involved certain planetary destruction. What’s more galling is that they also are incompetent boobs so blinded by ideology and greed that they have become their own worst enemies.

Today we hear that an abandoned coal ash pond owned by Duke Energy has befouled miles of a North Carolina river with 6-10 inches of toxic sludge. Naturally, the leak was tardily reported, and, you guessed it, nobody has yet figured out to stop it. And, yes, there happens to be a drinking water intake downstream, to boot.

This of course, as much of West Virginia still is without safe water after a coal-washing chemical poured into a river there for days, and the government became wildly preoccupied with just about everything except the health of its citizens. And that was right on the heels of multiple oil train crashes, one of which obliterated a town and killed 47 people.

Now, you’d think that an industry wholly dependent on government indulgence and dragging with it a political wish list a mile long would at least make some attempt to be on its best behavior, but you’d be wrong. Instead, they pocket the money saved from operating responsibly and use it to buy politicians. This approach works pretty well between disasters, but now that there isn’t really any time between disasters, they needed a new approach, and I think you’ll agree it’s a doozy.

They’re now using each other’s sundry calamaties to press their own goals, in a sort of round robin of blame shifting, and given the rank credulity of the media, it’s working. You see, if you don’t like trains full of oil being left unmanned (!) to roll into a town and blow it up, you’ll love the Keystone Pipeline! Requiring proper staffing and safer rail cars, or better yet, not using so danged much oil, after all means the terrorists win, or something.

And if you don’t like coal pollution and miners getting killed by the dozen, then you must support fracking, not better safety standards or cleaner alternative energy. And if you didn’t like the Deepwater Horizon spill, why not open up ANWR, or the Arctic? You get the idea.

Of course over time this strategy, while convincing to, say, Ed Schultz, is going to repel more and more Americans, as the relentless explosions, spills, and ruined lives continue with thudding regularity, and each part of this accident prone cabal is tainted by almost compulsively repetitive misdeeds.

It’s deliciously ironic that by reflexively rejecting any sort of regulation, much less facing a long term future when fossil fuels become uneconomic, the industry has become an unfunny parody of corporate villainy. Even with their lightly taxed billions, the latest technology, and bipartisan coddling from all levels of government, these clowns can’t lay pipe that doesn’t leak, drill wells that don’t blow out, or dispose of their own wastes. Lately, one indeed wonders how they put on their own pants.

As George W. Bush eventually discovered that tha American people will put up with a whole lot more than you think, until it finally dawns upon them that you’re dumber than they are, and you become a punch line, forever. The fossil fuel crowd is getting there fast.