14ga wiring is allowed on 20A heating circuits. It's artificially derated for general purpose circuits for extra safety.
Only because you're talking about a purely resistive load. "general purpose" spec allows for, among other things, inductive loads which can have startup and surge currents several times the nominal value. Some AC compressors draw 6x nominal at start. You shouldn't see much 14gauge, especially NM, in 20A residential circuits and you probably shouldn't be telling folks that it's OK.
When I bought my house, the home inspector found a couple of wiring issues, which were fixed by the previous owner prior to closing. Since then I have found several more that I corrected. It's not uncommon to find miswired circuits, incorrectly sized circuits or poor connections. Because of the way circuit breakers work and the way circuits are typically loaded, a wiring problem can go unnoticed for decades. Then you plug in a load on a 120V 15A circuit that draws 12 or 15 amps continuously for several hours and a bad connection makes itself known.
I don't care about the boogyman either. He's just in it for the scare. Or perhaps the good representative from California should be given that title. I also get annoyed at the descriptions: "hi-powered rifle" fits any modern rifle big enough to hunt deer. A 7.62x39 (SK and AK ammo, one of the most common in the world) is a relatively tame round, roughly equivalent to a 120 year old
I don't get concerned until there's a real effort by someone who clearly knows wtf they're doing. This looked then, and now, more like someone with a grudge (think ex-employee) trying to cause trouble by cutting a bunch of semi-random phone lines running past the station, then firing a rifle at the transformers. If this was really what is being implied in the article (assuming some reasonably sound intelligence indicates it to be so) my description -- they're a bunch of rank amateurs -- stands. These folks need to stop needlessly scaring people.
How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller