Wow, town hall protests are popping up like mushrooms on moldy astroturf.
Astroturf is the corporate version of grassroots – instead of real folks mobilizing for political action, astroturf campaigns are well-orchestrated PR efforts that put real folks out front, but are instigated and funded by corporate interests.
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We’ve seen a lot of astrotruf this year, including the teabag “uprisings” this spring, the boisterous health care confrontations at various congressional town hall meetings this summer, and the use of forged grassroots letters by a front group funded by the coal industry. Now comes a new line of astroturf from an old corporate flim-flammer: Big Oil.
In a series of about 20 mass rallies across the country, a group calling itself “Energy Citizens” is purporting to be a rebellion of common folks against President Obama’s climate change legislation. Who are these rebellious folk? Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and other oil giants.
The American Petroleum Institute, chief lobbyist for the industry, has orchestrated and funded the rallies. It has urged oil companies to “put a human face on” the industry’s opposition to Obama’s bill by putting thier employees out front. In a memo outlining details of the astroturf rallies, API warned oil executives to “Please treat this information as sensitive… we don’t want critics to know our game plan.”
Thirty-five hundred people rallied at the Verizon Center in Houston. That’s a lot of folks! Who were they? Oil company employees. The corporations rented the center, gave employees time off, rented buses to transport them, hired entertainers, provided lunch, printed placards for the crowd, and handed out hundreds of yellow T-shirts for them to wear.
This is Jim Hightower saying… Who, exactly, do they think they’re fooling?