Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 24, 2010

THE INFLUENCE OF OIL COMPANY DONATIONS As part of the Republican efforts to blame the White House for the BP oil spill disaster, former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) appeared on Fox News yesterday to share a conspiracy theory of sorts.

"I don't know why the question isn't asked by the mainstream media and by others if there is any connection with the contributions made to President Obama and his administration, and the support by the oil companies to the administration," Palin said, "If there is any connection there to President Obama taking so dog-gone long to get in there and dive in there and grasp the complexity and the potential tragedy that we are seeing here in the Gulf of Mexico."

Let's just pause a moment to appreciate the humor in the dimwitted Fox News personality accusing anyone of failing to "grasp the complexity" of anything.

Soon after, "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the accusation. "I'm almost sure that the oil companies don't consider the Obama administration a huge ally," Gibbs noted, adding that Palin should probably "get slightly more informed as to what's going on."

But in case anyone's inclined to take the substance (I use the word loosely) of Palin's nonsense seriously, the Wall Street Journal had a worthwhile report.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Republicans receive far more campaign money from the oil and gas industry than do Democrats.

So far in 2010, the oil and gas industries have contributed $12.8 million to all candidates, with 71% of that money going to Republicans. During the 2008 election cycle, 77% of the industry's $35.6 million in contributions went to Republicans, and in the 2008 presidential contest, Republican candidate Sen. John McCain received more than twice as much money from the oil and gas industries as Obama: McCain collected $2.4 million; Obama, $898,000.

This is a decades-long trend, the center says: Since 1990, oil and gas companies have donated $238.7 million to candidates and parties, with 75% of the money going to Republicans.

To borrow Palin's phrase, does she wonder if there's any connection between the contributions made to Republican candidates and the Republican Party's support for the oil companies. "I don't know why the question isn't asked by the mainstream media and by others."

What's more, as Ben Armbruster noted, even conservatives seem to think Palin is on the wrong track with this one. Ed Morrissey warned Republicans not to "overplay their hand on this issue."

Steve Benen 11:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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I think it's time that everyone take a look back at Cheney's secret meetings with Big Oil back when Chimpy first took office. Y'know, right before the first oil spike of the decade. What types of safety requirements did Cheney tell 'em to ignore. Who did Cheney put in charge of the regulatory agency that was supposed to be watching these companies?

Grasp that.

Posted by: Gridlock on May 24, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Palin is an idiot. She should not bring up the issue of oil company money influencing politicians. At all. Her hands, as well as other R hands, are far too oily... er... dirty.

Further, had the administration gone in right away, she would have criticized it as a "government takeover" of private business. The typical two-faces of the Rs.

Had to laugh at her "get in there" phrase, which reminded me of her answer to a school child about what she'd be doing as VP: getting in there with the Senate to create legislation (paraphrasing, though perhaps better word choice than Palin). And about which she was widely ridiculed.

Posted by: Hannah on May 24, 2010 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

So, what Palin and her ilk would have us believe is that:

a] BP, as a corporate entity, would give Obama more campaign money than it did McCain because they were about to unleash an enormous environmental disaster on our shores and wanted to buy some time.

b] That 40-some years ago a birth certificate was forged in Hawaii in the off chance that a Kenya-born infant might one day be elected president of the United States.

Meanwhile, I guess these means we can count of Palin's support in overturning the Supreme Court's recent decision to allow corporate campaign contributions.

"FOX says it. I believe it. That settles it."


Posted by: chrenson on May 24, 2010 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

While all of Steve's post is true, loyal Faux Watchers will not learn about it. (They are Special Needs people, easily confused, and are issued a TV with just one channel. . .)

Posted by: DAY on May 24, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Say wha?

The high priestess of Global-warming-denial...
Appears on the Global-warming-denial News network...
To claim the democrats are in cahoots with big oil...

Posted by: koreyel on May 24, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Doesn't Palin have a cozy relationship with the oil companies. She was governor of Alaska after all. Palin's projecting. Republicans are deep into projection.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 24, 2010 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Not to mention two minor problems..Ol' Todd Palin used to work for BP and Linda Murkowski, REP AK + $146,550 garnered the third Highest big oil donations in the country
That the MSM can't be bothered to use The Google is most amusing and pathetic at the same time.


Posted by: John R on May 24, 2010 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Her brain needs to be labeled a "Thought Free Zone!"
I hope her fall is as fast as her rise.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 24, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Gridlock: exactly, but there have already been court fights on this, Judicial Watch and The Sierra Club sued the Bush Admin when they refused to comply with FOIA requests, and the American public ultimately lost. I wonder if it could be reopened in light of new incidents (perhaps we could hear from an attorney who is reading this?). This case is when the Scalia/Cheney duck hunting trips became an issue, when Scalia refused to recuse himself when hearing this case.


Posted by: Hannah on May 24, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Way to completely misrepresent what Ed Morrissey said. Special Ed was warning Republicans not to "overplay their hand on the issue" because he's worried about "damaging the effort to increase domestic production of oil."

I'm not sure why you were implying Ed has a sane bone in his body.

Posted by: DR on May 24, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget that Palin's hubby Todd worked for BP in Alaska for most of his adult life. While that doesn't imply any corruption on her part, it does make her accusation about Obama's ties to BP seem even funnier.

Posted by: NHCt on May 24, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Forget the corporate donations; what's this about "taking so doggone long to get in there"?

Posted by: Grumpy on May 24, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

"...even conservatives seem to think Palin is on the wrong track with this one. Ed Morrissey warned Republicans not to "overplay their hand on this issue.""

Hate to criticize, but this is misleading. It's not that Ed Morrisey thinks Republicans shouldn't "overplay their hand on this issue" because it's not (as he sees it) a winning issue - he thinks it is; or because the hypocrisy might reflect even more poorly on the GOP (this goes totally unmentioned).

He thinks Republicans shouldn't "overplay their hand on this issue" because it would stoke more fears about the potential hazards of off-shore drilling, which he wants to increase.

In other words, you're giving Cap'n Ed wayyy too much credit for being reasonable.

Posted by: Michael on May 24, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

More please, I would love for the MSM to "drill, baby, drill" on where coorporate oil money has/is going.

And did I wake up in an alternate universe on Saturday, because seems like government was the problem a month ago, now it's all of a sudden the solution ? Not only in government the solution, but a better solution then the free market, which I assume they understand has failed when they denounce Obama's lack of intervention.

This isn't an act of god, it's a corporate mega fuck-up, which can only mean on thing, big business has failed at a catastrophic level, which I thought the republican party has basically insisted is an impossibility.

Posted by: ScottW714 on May 24, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, at last I see why FAUX says they are "fair and balanced". First, Brit Hume plays Frank Drebin and says, "Move along, folks, nothing to see". Then, $t $arah whines about this being a "potential tragedy".

Posted by: berttheclock on May 24, 2010 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I thought that Palin famously has no use for the "mainstream media" - at least when it comes to asking questions of her. So why is she suddenly all about siccing them on Obama?

Posted by: andy on May 24, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

How dumb is Palin?

Here's a transcript of a future Fucksnooze interview.

Bill Clinton claims that he didn't serve in Vietnam because, he was away at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar but I checked, he does not have an Oxford degree.

Al Gore says he enlisted and served in Vietnam. Have you seen his war records? I didn't think so.

I think the lamestream media needs to get in there and do a deep investigation of all former president's vietnam era service and find out what really happened.

I think all of thise records should be released without redacting so the American people can know th truth about our leader's serv ice in Vietnam.

And if there are inconsitencies they should have to explain them to the American people.

That's how dumb Sarah Palin is.

Posted by: Winkandanod on May 24, 2010 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Most commenters misunderstand or fail to mention the REAL point here. Palin doesn't understand her role and is too stupid to see that attacking corporations only undermines the Republican party.

Conservatives are NERVOUS about Palin's faux-populist attack on the Democrats because the oil companies won't like it if they are criticized by their bought and paid for Representatives!

The corporations that own them don't like being demagogued like that.

Therefore, other Republicans and media wing-nuts won't be too eager to pick up this line of attack or echo it too strongly.

Posted by: Cugel on May 24, 2010 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Can we all agree that petroleum companies, BP included, routinely bribe -- cough! contribute to the campaign coffers of -- politicians and political parties in order to stave off regulatory oversight?

Can we also agree that such bribes -- cough! donations -- are largely effective in achieving their purposes?

Can we also agree that Republican recipients are more numerous but that Democrats -- like Landrieu and, yes, Obama -- are no better when they do the bidding of their corporate masters, sternly-worded letters and podium thumping aside?

Posted by: square1 on May 24, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

So, Sarah Palin, the self-proclaimed energy and oil-bidness expert, why aren't you "getting in there" to help solve the problem?

This is someone who claims to be more qualified and more of an expert on oil, gas, and oil-industry issues than anyone else in the country. Yet when there's a disastrous spill, her only contribution is to sit on the sidelines and take potshots at the President? First, she says she knows what just how bad this is because of the Valdez. Then she claims that this li'l ole spill shouldn't keep us from drill-baby-drilling, and then she claims that the Obama administration is beholden to the oil interests? The only consistency in her message seems to be "Obama=bad."

I'm just curious - why doesn't Ms Oil Expert volunteer herself and her Oil Expert BP-employee First Due for some oil-abatement efforts? Does she, with her self-touted toughness and ability to handle the industry have any influence with BP and industry clean-up companies? How about sending Bristol, Willow, and Piper down there to volunteer cleaning birds? How about serving on some kind of advisory panel? Even if it were only self-serving photo ops, why isn't she doing ANYTHING to help solve this terrible crisis?

Posted by: g on May 24, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

So, I almost never watch the sabbath gasbags, Faux news, etc.... and I know this has been pointed out ad nauseum here, but Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Even trying to be a bit even-handed, why the hell do they trot out Palin, Gingrich, Dick Morris, John McCain, etc., as being able to speak "authoritatively" about anything, let along anything - you know, what is that word?? Oh - complex. or complicated? I struggle, yeah, mightily I struggle, to listen to some of the conservatives, to be open minded, but good grief,

These people are truly morons.

Posted by: bigtuna on May 24, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

What, wait. NOW she's complaining that the Federal Government didn't interfere in private business ENOUGH, or FAST ENOUGH? You mean, it wasn't Big Government enough for ya, Sarah?

Her head must be a very confusing place for a thought to try to live.

Posted by: biggerbox on May 24, 2010 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

NBD, bigtuna - but technically Saturday is "the Sabbath" and so Jews still take that as their official religious holiday. But yes, mostly gasbags and the same asinine ones over and over: McInane, 9iu11iani, etc.

Posted by: neil b. on May 24, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

People who use words like "doggone" and "dang" are generally not very serious people and should be ignored unless and until they learn to speak like adults instead of bad Huckleberry Finn impersonators.

Posted by: Chesire11 on May 24, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't anyone read the methodology disclaimer and note at the Center for Responsible Politics that provides these campaign finance figures?

METHODOLOGY: The totals on these charts are calculated from PAC contributions and contributions from individuals giving more than $200, as reported to the Federal Election Commission. Individual contributions are generally categorized based on the donor's occupation/employer, although individuals may be classified instead as ideological donors if they've given more than $200 to an ideological PAC.

NOTE: All the numbers on this page are for the 2008 election cycle and based on Federal Election Commission data released electronically on Monday, July 13, 2009.

If you then search Obama's record at the FEC website that is the direct source, he received a meager $1500 from a PAC and all other donations were from individuals. You must provide your employer when donating and what these morons do is then search Obama's records by employer at the FEC website, add the total from said employer and then state he received $xxx,xxx from "oil and gas companies", but do not state it was a sum total of all individuals who are employed by said "oil and gas companies". They do this with every employer, including Goldman Sachs or anyone else they would like to tie a candidate to and make it appear he received donations directly from Goldman Sachs or whomever and not individual employees of said companies. I'm really getting tired of hearing this same drivel.

Posted by: flyonthewall on May 24, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing that Palin is improvising on the point that Howard Fineman made in a Newsweek article a few weeks ago--that if this had happened during Bush's watch we would have treated this as a major failure on the President's part:

Let's try a political thought experiment. Imagine that a few months after a new president takes office, his administration approves an offshore oil well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico. It is to be run by BP, whose employees were very generous donors to the president's campaign. The oil company airily dismisses the possibility of a catastrophic leak that might destroy the coastline. Nearly a year later, the president—to the dismay of his environmentalist supporters—says he wants to greatly expand offshore drilling. Soon after that, the BP well explodes, and oil spews into the gulf. It's clear to everyone that the blowout is a major catastrophe, requiring a federal mobilization. But the president's initial response is to say, in effect: do not worry, BP will pay for the cleanup. Eleven days pass before he goes to survey the scene.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/237644. Fineman's point isn't that Obama deserves the blame, but that it's an odd feature of political discourse that he isn't getting it. Palin is trying, in her ham-handed way, to try to do just that. She'd be dangerous if she wasn't so clumsy.

Posted by: Henry on May 24, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I must admit I was a bit shocked at her saying this as her party gets more from Oil Companies than anyone else

One of those you dont want to go down that road type things

Posted by: Vious on May 24, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans shouldn't "overplay their hand"? Um, WHAT hand, exactly? They're the ones who've allowed the oil companies to run roughshod over land and sea, virtually free of regulation -- including the requirement that they hav remote shut-off switches for wells, which are mandatory in many countries. Such a switch would have cost about $500,000 -- or roughly 1/32,000 of BP's profits of $16 billion last year.

Posted by: gradysu on May 24, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah probably believes what she is saying because she may not have seen the oil company dollars (have no mind to research this and, in any event, that's the name of the game, n'est-ce pas?). Why? She has so thoroughly bought into the hype of right-wing propaganda that she needs no financial incentive to do their bidding. Consider her the first flea to be found inside the home. Soon we will be overrun by people who are not mercenary (that to which we have become accustomed, i.e., people intelligent enough to know they're spouting BS but also know how lucrative the BS business can be) but are too damned dumb to know the philosophy they bought into is unadulterated hogwash and think they are doing what is best for the country.

Time for my passport renewal...

@ c u n d gulag: her fall may be as fast as her rise but she still gets to walk with tens of millions more dollars on her way out; such is the advancement of our anti-meritocracy

Posted by: LGRooney on May 24, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

You liberal dogs have your day.. The facts are
Gov. Palin is correct. Why has Obama waited 30+ to
address the Gulf. He was elected to protect
America but all he has done is tear it down.
Look at Az and his cronies from Mexico.

Posted by: Jerry on May 24, 2010 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK
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