CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Massey CEO Don Blankenship said in a weekend TV interview that "evil people" have ascended the ranks of power in the United States and implied Sen. Jay Rockefeller was among them.
In an appearance on the WBOY and WOWK show "Decision Makers," Blankenship was asked about the impact of Rockefeller's comments that Massey was a "rogue" operator.
Rockefeller, D-W.Va., was being critical of Massey and Blankenship following the explosion last month at the company's Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29.
Blankenship said the comment was "total nonsense."
"I think about how evil people can be and how misplaced their priorities can be and unfortunate it is that people that can reach the level of senator or president or representative or head of the union - how wrong they can be," Blankenship said. "But I've seen a lot of it over my time."
A spokeswoman for Rockefeller's office said Monday, "Sen. Rockefeller's priorities have been clear since day one: to find out exactly what happened at the Upper Big Branch mine, demand accountability - at all levels - and take action to make mines safer."
Blankenship also said the reason some other mine operators may not want to associate with Massey is that "we always tell the truth about issues" that nobody wants to associate with. That includes criticizing what Blankenship considers safety regulations that are not pragmatic and an approach to regulation by the government that he feels often leaves regulators and companies at loggerheads.
Blankenship also shot back at United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts, a longtime critic of Massey's operations, which are only about 1 percent unionized.
Roberts told a U.S. Senate committee last week people "at the very top" of Massey knew what was going on in the mine, which had a history of safety violations. Roberts suggested criminal prosecutions.
Blankenship said Roberts can say what he wants, "but it doesn't change anything."
"It's really sad, because Cecil has no more idea what happened at UBB than I do, and it's political agenda - he's, you know, it's almost like Goober or Barney on an 'Andy Griffith' running around, 'Citizen's arrest,' or something," Blankenship said.
Blankenship also criticized President Barack Obama for getting most of his advice from "the union element." He also said he hasn't had an opportunity to talk with Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. Although he shook hands with Rahall at some point, Blankenship said he had not had discussions with him about "any of these outlandish statements." Blankenship did not specify the statements.