As ship of state sinks, Commander McGraw worries about strawberries

By The West Virginia Record | Feb 3, 2012

Like the paranoid and delusional Commander Queeg of "The Caine Mutiny," Attorney General Darrell McGraw envisions himself as a ship's captain of the State of West Virginia.

"Ah, but the strawberries, that's – that's where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt -- and with geometric logic -- that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox did exist, and I'd have produced that key if they hadn't've pulled the Caine out of action." -- Lt. Cdr. Philip Francis Queeg

In "The Caine Mutiny," Humphrey Bogart plays a ship's commander who loses his grip on reality, thereby jeopardizing the safety of his vessel and crew and forcing a junior officer to assume command.

In one famous scene, Commander Queeg obsesses over the supply of strawberries on board and the possibility that someone has been stealing extra portions. Later, as a typhoon threatens to overturn the ship, he proves unable to exercise the necessary authority to steer her through to safety.

For some strange reason he alone knows, West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw envisions himself as a ship's captain.

"I look forward to the privilege of remaining at the helm of this office," he declares on his website, referring to this year's campaign for re-election.

McGraw has been "at the helm" for five terms now and, like Queeg, seems to be suffering from battle fatigue.

"One of the reasons that West Virginia ranks at the bottom of most major economic indicators in the country is because its legal system is hostile to business," charges Patrick Morrisey, a Harpers Ferry Republican who is running for McGraw's office -- seeking to replace him at the helm.

"As Attorney General, I will fight to turn the state's legal climate around and champion strong ethics reform," Morrisey promises.

Ironically, McGraw prides himself on having created that hostile legal climate. While our state's economy has foundered, he's abused his authority and made matters worse. As our ship of state threatens to sink, he persists in his delusional quest to recover stolen strawberries.

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