CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice, who has developed a reputation for his affinity for extended metaphors, has a new one to describe naysayers of West Virginia’s $83 billion natural gas investment deal with China.
It has to do with groceries and bananas.
Describing the reaction of doubters during a press conference at the state Capitol today, Justice told a story about shopping.
“A long time ago, my grandfather that I love very dearly — he was 88 years old and he wanted to go squirrel hunting. So we had a farm over in Monroe County and there was no interstate to guide us there, and we didn’t have anything to stay in. He got him a room at the Fort Savannah Inn in Lewisburg. And I lived in Beckley. And I would drive and pick him up and we’d go squirrel hunting. And we’d hunt till black dark and then on the way back, we were hungry.
“And so, on the way back, I stopped at Kroger. And we went in and I bought him two bags of food. I bought everything. — anything he could possibly want to eat as far as a sandwich or stuff for breakfast, sweet rolls, orange juice and all that kind of stuff. And I put it in the back seat. He was in the back seat, and there was another fella with me in the front seat.
“He started going through the bags. And I had everything. Two grocery bags full of just stuff. And he looked right at me and he said, ‘Could you not have bought a damn man a banana?
“Well, that’s exactly what I would say to you. If you can find something wrong with this, you’re looking for a banana. That’s all there is to it. Now, there wasn’t a banana in the bag. I can’t put a banana in the bag if you’re looking for a banana.”
Speaking a few minutes later, state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher offered his own riff on the banana analogy.
Thrasher said the broader deal with China was meant to begin reversing a trade imbalance with China. He said the deal, including the aspects that may begin to affect development in West Virginia, accomplishes that goal.
“These are Chinese dollars invested to build bricks and mortar facilities within West Virginia that will use our raw resources, convert those resources into value-added, finished products that, in turn, are purchased back for use in China and other developing countries.
“If you were going to write a script, you could not write a more favorable script than what this is playing out to be. So, as the governor says you can look for the banana. If you take what is very simple, but very clear this is the best thing that could possibly happen.”