"That's because while we know Kentucky for Louisville, bluegrass and basketball, West Virginia's perceived backwardness has been one its most durable cultural memes — an unshakable label for a state that lacks a big city, a famous musical heritage or championship team to offer as an alternative," Dokoupil opines. "That may soon change. Shedding the state's hillbilly image has become a personal crusade of Gov. Joe Manchin," right.
Manchin, in his second term, "has authorized a multimillion blast of cash and marketing aimed not only at rehabilitating the region's reputation, but also stemming a three-decade exodus of the state's best and brightest residents," Dokoupil reports. "In the next few weeks he will announce a "Come Home to West Virginia" spokesperson — the face of a new campaign to cast the state as a destination for families, entrepreneurs and young leaders." Dokoupil errs by calling the Democratic governor a Republican; perhaps he was misled by Manchin's strong pro-business attitude. He notes that the state's "Wild, Wonderful" slogan had changed to "Open for Business."
He is skeptical that Manchin can succeed: "While you and I can reinvent ourselves by revamping our Facebook page, West Virginia's overhaul may require a deeper, more delicate approach, not least because many of the state's stereotypes are both longstanding and rooted in at least some fact." He recounts those facts and Manchin's "zero-tolerance policy on the ongoing pop-culture slander of his state," then ends with an illustration that makes Manchin look like, well, a hillbilly:
The annual Road Kill Cook-Off in Pocahontas, for instance, features dishes you're unlikely to see at your local restaurant, including intestine-challenging "flat cat," "bumper bruised bear" and "deer schmear fajitas." The mere mention of it puts a hard edge in the governor's voice. "Are they still running that s––– down south?" he asks an aide in disbelief, before adding: "Well, I tell you what, if you see [the organizer], kill the son of a bitch."