In Alaska's native villages, the punishing winter cold is already penetrating the walls of the lightly insulated plywood homes, many of the villagers are desperately poor, and heating-oil prices are among the highest in the nation.
And yet a few of the small communities want to refuse free heating oil from Venezuela, on the patriotic principle that no foreigner has the right to call their president "the devil."
The heating oil is being offered by the petroleum company controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, President Bush's nemesis. While scores of Alaska's Eskimo and Indian villages say they have no choice but to accept, others would rather suffer.
"As a citizen of this country, you can have your own opinion of our president and our country. But I don't want a foreigner coming in here and bashing us," said Justine Gunderson, administrator for the tribal council in the Aleut village of Nelson Lagoon. "Even though we're in economically dire straits, it was the right choice to make."
Update: One of my commenters pointed me to the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, which issued a press release about its refusal of the oil (emphasis mine):
Even though this fuel prospectively provides a basic essential need for our people, the leaders feel compelled to make this sacrifice. One of our Tribal Council Presidents said it very well, “The fuel barge has not yet arrived, and we are now having to ration what fuel we have left. The price is almost $5 per gallon. But we just cannot in good conscience accept fuel from someone who has so denigrated our country and our President”. Despite the critical need for fuel in our region, the Unangan (Aleut) people are Americans first, and we cannot support the political agenda attached to this donation.
The group is seeking other funds. My smart reader was good enough to advise them to stick a PayPal button on their page. If they did, they'd prolly rake in a bunch off the good will this story creates. I'll update you if they add one.