Sancho Panza for senator!

Windmills dot the political commercial landscape.

Published November 7, 2006 1:18AM (EST)

At least 16 political advertisements feature candidates standing in front of windmills, reports the Washington Post, citing the League of Conservation Voters as the source.

The theory is that renewable energy is something voters finally care about. Take a gander at Democratic candidate Jerry McNerney, running in California's 11th Congressional District against Richard Pombo, the man nine out of 10 environmentalists are convinced is the antichrist.

McNerney is standing against a backdrop of windmills dotting the Altamont Pass, a sight that has been delighting California drivers on their way from the Central Valley to the Bay Area for decades. The image is meant to convey sensibile, forward-looking, environmentally responsible rationality. And given the League of Conservation Voters statistics, McNerney is far from alone in putting faith in the equation: Windmills equal votes!

Call How the World Works cynical, but we see windmills, and we think about people who like to tilt at them, like Don Quixote. Somewhere, Richard Pombo is laughing his head off.

UPDATE: A reader informs me that Jerry McNerney is a former windpower engineer who helped design the Altamont Pass windmills. How the World Works feels foolish.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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