It was not so long ago that the coal industry could just issue propaganda without reference to coal’s problems. Coal was “reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean” and it powered green, useful things like Washington, D.C.’s Metro system.

So imagine my glee when I woke up this morning and pulled the latest Southern Company insert from my morning newspaper. Here it is:

I think the androgynous yuppie happily contemplating the radioactive turd is supposed to convince us that said turd is actually a piece of coal that has been magically “greened.”

I was smiling, of course, not because this insert represented a new, revolting low in graphic arts, but because Southern Company now feels compelled to fight not so much for the ability to build new coal-fired power plants, but for survival.

All that climate organizing (and investment) seems to be getting to them. As much as the coal industry claims President Obama as an ally, he’s also the guy who said they’d be bankrupted if they don’t capture their carbon dioxide, which may be an impossible task — and is definitely exceedingly expensive and polluting.

And now, in a jobs and economy-focused Congress, Big Coal has a new challenge: arguing why they should be allowed to live when coal is increasingly being seen as a job killer: putting money into coal means less than half the number of jobs as investments in efficiency, conservation, or clean energy and $167 billion in extra annual health costs related to coal’s regular toxic pollution, not to mention the $271 billion annual drag global warming will exert on the economy by 2025.

Oh, and more than 1,000 people are about to participate in the biggest civil disobedience in U.S. history on climate issues — by protesting a coal plant.

Expect more green turds of desperation with your morning newspaper.