Perhaps Some Good News for Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner, the former New York congressman whose unfortunate last name made his digital sharing of suggestive photos of himself seem at least as ridiculous as it was tawdry, has entered the Democratic primary to be elected mayor of New York.

Immediately, he has moved into second place in the polls, though with just fifteen percent support among likely primary voters, he is still 10 percentage points behind the frontrunner in an increasingly crowded field. The race is still too close to call—has become even more difficult to call because of Weiner’s entry into it–though commentators have hastened to point out that Weiner is not attracting either high-profile endorsements or contributions from important constituencies such as organized labor.

There has been much discussion in the New York newspapers, on the regional talk-radio programs, on the regional television news shows, and even on the national cable news networks about the circumstances that permit proverbial “second acts” in very public American lives—about the things that factor into the rehabilitation of a very tarnished public image.

I think that Anthony Weiner might take comfort in the seemingly sudden rehabilitation of a phrase even more automatically disdained than his name.

After he voted against stronger background checks for gun buyers, the freshman senator from Arizona, Jeff Flake, saw his approval ratings fall dramatically. Rather colorfully, he admitted to the media that he had become “less popular than pond scum,” and for several weeks, not just Jeff Flake but anything suffering from a loss of public favor was described as “less popular than pond scum.” After those several weeks had passed, the phrase itself finally became “less popular than pond scum” and, mercifully, disappeared from our public discourse.

So, imagine my surprise when I can across the following news item digitally distributed by The Atlantic.


America’s Fuel Source of the Future Could Be ‘Pond Scum’

Would you drive a Ford Scumliner? Or how about a Chevy Kelpette?

Autos from the black lagoon could be a reality in the coming decades, if experiments to transform algae into a fuel source prove successful. And if they do, America could be king in a new energy landscape dominated by algal biofuel. That’s because our placid waterways and warm lakes are looking better than ever for the massive cultivation of slimes, oozes, glops, and other kinds of green gold.

America’s potential headstart in the algae-fuel sector was recently heralded by researchers who found that the country is ready to grow “serious amounts of pond scum.” In particular, the scientists are giddy about the possibilities of the Gulf Coast, which has a “good combination of warm temperatures, low evaporation, access to an abundance of water, and plenty of fuel-processing facilities,” according to Mark Wigmosta, a hydrologist at the government-run Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Algae are an attractive prospect for futurists looking into the days past coal and gasoline’s dominance. They’re oil-rich organisms that grow in great abundance and could be relatively cheap to harvest, once muck-farmers get the process down. Algal oil isn’t totally ideal, because like fossil fuel it produces climate-changing carbon dioxide. But algae naturally mitigate those emissions by sucking C02 out of the air during photosynthesis. . . .

The rest of the article by John Metcalfe is available at:


If pond scum can rebound in this way, there may be hope for Anthony Weiner.

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