BIG OIL ROLLS ON

Who says these are hard times? Indeed, George W recently dismissed those who are saying that America is in a recession, claiming that signs of good times are breaking out.

Who says these are hard times? Indeed, George W recently dismissed those who are saying that America is in a recession, claiming that signs of good times are breaking out.

And, sure enough, in George’s world, there truly is exuberant economic joy and unbridled optimism these days. Big Oil has announced its profits for the first three months of this year, and the numbers are producing an outburst of champagne celebrations – assuming you’re on the corporate side of the gas pump. Exxon Mobil hauled off $10 billion in first quarter profits, Shell grabbed $9 billion, BP took $7.6 billion, and ConocoPhillips made off with $4 billion.

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Goodness! What are they doing with this ocean of money they’re siphoning out of our pockets? Well, they’re pouring a few million dollars of it into Washington lobbyists, trying to hang on to about $1.8 billion a year that they get in subsidies from us taxpayers. Yes, you and I – ordinary taxpayers – are subsidizing some of the richest corporations in the history of the world.

Recognizing the jawdropping absurdity of this, some members of Congress have proposed cutting these giveaways and, instead, investing the funds in tax credits to spur development of such renewable sources of energy as wind and solar. The House has already approved this sensible shift, but Bush is waving his veto pen, oil lobbyists are swarming Capital Hill, and the Senate is balking. Last month, by a one-vote margin, senators rejected the House cut in Big Oil’s subsidy.

However, there is still a chance for the Senate to reconsider. Indeed, the one-vote difference could be made up by Sen. John McCain Even though he already had the Republican party presidential nomination sewed up, he missed this crucial vote in April. Choosing instead to stay on the campaign trail. But now, McCain could make a bold stand for the public interest. Assuming, of course, that the oil lobbyists backing his presidential run would ever let that happen.

“Big Oil’s Friends in the Senate,” The New York Times, May 5, 2008

“BP and Shell post big profits in era of record oil prices,” www.biz.yahoo.com April 29, 2008

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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