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August 15, 2008

A Political Party Working For Oil Companies -- For Money

-- by Dave Johnson

Republicans are insisting that our government give oil companies leases to drill off our shores. We are witnessing an unprecedented joint, coordinated campaign, involving oil companies and a political party, to trick the public into
1) supporting giving billions of dollars (more) worth of government leases to oil companies, for their profit, even while these companies are sitting on other millions of acres of leases and not using them and
2) supporting a political party with the same advertising message. This is what is called an "integrated" marketing campaign -- combining TV, radio, astroturf, industry-front "think tanks," "earned" news media, paid speakers and the unusual addition of a political campaign.

This at a time when the planet's climate is threatened by the CO2 going into the air from the coal and oil we are already burning.

With this coordinated campaign we see oil company advertisements on TV, hear them on the radio, read reports of "studies" from these industry front-group "think tanks," read op-ed pieces written by industry-paid "experts," and then to top it off elected officials and candidates reinforce the message (while the industry message reinforces their candidacy).

It is this addition of the political campaign in coordination with a paid industry campaign that is especially dangerous. This is elected officials and candidates working in conjunction with an industry to sell a product in exchange for political contributions and coordinated advertisements that support the message of the political party. The product is government oil leases to oil companies. The oil companies advertise about our country's need to drill offshore, which reinforces the political campaign of the Republican Party. This is not direct candidate advertisement so it is sort of legal, but any way you look at it it is big corporations spending tens or possibly hundreds of millions of dollars in obvious coordination with the political campaign, in a stealth manner that disguises that it is campaign advertising, while pretending it is an issue of national importance.

The other day I wrote a post, Republican / Oil Company Joint Campaign On Drilling,

I'm watching CNN and there is a report about the Republicans in Washington pulling a big stunt about drilling for oil. When the report ends, there is a commercial from the oil industry about why the country needs to drill for more oil.

It doesn't get much clearer than that. This is a political party involving itself in a corporate product marketing campaign, for money, which the corporations are involving themselves in the political campaign, for favors. This "drill now" campaign is funded by oil companies, is about giving them even more special government favors, and is about keeping the corporate political party in power.

This drilling campaign's level integration of a political party with corporate money may be unprecedented. We need new kinds of controls over the ability of corporations to influence our politics.

Posted by Dave Johnson at August 15, 2008 3:06 PM

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