Selling Hope in West Virginia

A rookie Governor is building schools and cutting bureaucracy

West Virginia's spectacular landscape belies the conditions facing its inhabitants: dying coal towns and widespread rural poverty and illiteracy. When a coal-company manager was hustled off to prison last month in Huntington for his role in a vote-buying scheme, it seemed simply more of the same: a handful of predators picking over the ruins of a once booming coal economy, and a stagnant, wasteful government.

Yet across the state a near miracle was happening. On that same day, West Virginia legislators completed a session unlike any other in the state's history. Democrats and Republicans pushed through a thick package of legislation...

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