Thinking back on the debate, for what is I hope the last time, something is rising to the surface, like the car with the dead body in it at the end of Psycho: Romney’s rhapsody on Coal. Let’s give coal its due. It burns, we have a lot of it, and a lot of decent people have worked, and continue to work hard, filthy, dangerous jobs to produce it.

Okay, now let’s talk about the 21st Century. Suddenly, Romney’s vision for our nation’s future is not only bringing back the bulk of the George W Bush agenda, with better hair and fingernails, it’s about: coal? Really??? You can see Mitt sitting in his briefing chair, staring at a lump of Bituminous there on the desk in front of him, being quite careful not to touch it with those fingernails. His advisors are telling him he can get a gotcha on Obama over coal. Coal. A truly filthy fuel in every way, and even in the fossil fuel pantheon, being outrun by natural gas economically.

Now Romney might be forgiven by pointing out that there are trade-offs involved in trying to move away from coal, although it would be yet another herculean psychic disconnect listening to Mr. Bain Capital shedding tears over displaced workers. But he’s not just mentioning it. It’s almost as though he sees coal as the WAY FORWARD. A BIG PART of his PLAN. What is this about? What it’s about is a signal that he’s got nothing left in his arsenal of arguments. In every way, coal is THE PAST, and all in all, good riddance. Leave those mountaintops and streams alone now. But there is Mitt, staring into the crumbling lump in front of him, hands tucked carefully in his pants pockets, thinking it’s his crystal ball.