When Santa gives you a lump of coal, it means you’ve been naughty. When Joe Manchin gives you a lump of coal, it's a message about the public's faith in government.
The West Virginia Senator gave two lumps of coal to Chuck Schumer, his Democratic colleague from New York, as part of the first annual Senate Secret Santa gift exchange. But Manchin was not criticizing the Empire State senator; he was exhibiting some home state pride. The coal was mined in West Virginia's hills and sold in the the state's Culture Center gift shop. The two lumps were carved into the shape of a donkey and an elephant.
Manchin attached a note that read: “With an eight percent approval rating, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress deserve to have coal in their stocking this year. Lucky for us, my state has more than enough to go around.”
Even more impressive, Manchin didn’t go over budget with his gift. He stayed well within the $10 limit.
The Senate Secret Santa gift exchange was the brainchild of Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who hoped the bi-partisan program would help Democrats and Republicans put aside their differences – at least for a short while. In total, 61 senators participated.