Friday, January 22, 2010

$676,500 From Exxon And All I Got Was This Shoddy Denier Video

A Big Oil-funded think tank called the Heartland Institute is pushing out this Youtube video claiming that because it's been snowing recently, global warming can't possibly be real. They even show you some real cool photos of cacti covered by an inch or two of the white powdery stuff!

Aside from looking like it was thrown together by some guy named Chad in his freshman dorm, the video is riddled with wild and disproven claims about temperature data over the past decade. Worse, it sort of steers clear of what science snobs might call "peer-reviewed research" in favor of that old denier favorite: looking out the window in winter.

As we've mentioned here on R?S? before, saying global warming is a hoax because it's snowing outside is a bit like saying "Well, I haven't been mugged recently, so crime must not really be a problem!" Since the Heartland Institute is located in Washington, D.C., we have to wonder what these people will be saying when it tops 100 in the nation's capitol this coming summer. It gets HOT.

You'd think with the heavy funding they get from Exxon and other energy companies with a vested interest in blocking any and all clean energy reform, the Heartland Institute could have at least thrown together a slick animation or, I dunno, gotten Glenn Beck to cry on camera.

Oh wait, we can get that for free. Score!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Supreme Court Learnings For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Big Oil

It's Round 2 of "Big Money Day" here at R?S?.

Today, the Supreme Court issued a shocking decision that LCV's Gene Karpinski says will "open the floodgates" to corporate money in elections. In short, the court struck down decades-old campaign finance laws that bar corporations from spending unlimited sums directly advocating for or against candidates for elected office.

Across the board, smart observers of American politics know exactly what that means: unlimited sums of money from massive corporations like ExxonMobil spent attacking candidates who will stand up for things that corporations don't like. Just picture 60 seconds of campaign-style smear against your favorite clean energy candidate, with the closing line: "This ad paid for by ExxonMobil."

From a Washington Post analysis of the decision:
It's hard to overestimate the impact that the Supreme Court's reversal of a two-decade-old ban on corporate independent expenditures in campaigns will have on the political landscape in 2010 and beyond...

"This is a sweeping decision, period," said Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer. "In one opinion the Court struck down all limits on independent expenditures directly from corporations."

Jason Torchinsky, a Republican election lawyer, predicted that the Court's ruling will "unleash millions of dollars in independent expenditures from corporations, non-profits and unions in federal and state races"...
The sad bottom line came from Justice John Paul Stevens, who attacked the court's majority decision aloud in court today:
Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting from the main holding, said, "The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation."
Having felt the full brunt of Big Oil's decades-long effort to undermine the legislative process, those of us here at LCV will be redoubling our efforts to defend clean energy champions from what we anticipate will be its efforts to do the same thing to our elections.

What Would You Do With $123 Million?

That's the question we've been asking ourselves this morning here at R?S? amid reports that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent a record $71.19 million on lobbying just in the last three months of 2009. That's more than double its third quarter lobbying expenses of nearly $35 million, and brings the Chamber's 2009 total to a whopping $123 million.

And what has the Chamber been doing with all that cold, hard cash? Why, lobbying to kill clean energy and climate legislation of course!

To put the Chamber's massive total in perspective, let's look at what else the Chamber could have done with its $123 million:

• Financed multi-millionaire (and clean energy hater) Mitt Romney’s entire 2008 presidential campaign
• Completely built, shot, edited and produced any one of Peter Jackson’s three epic “Lord of the Rings” films
• Purchased six F-16 “Fighting Falcon” fighter jets or 20 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks
• Or, you know, more than doubled the Obama administration’s recent announcement of a hefty $100 million in new Recovery Act grants for clean energy and energy efficiency

But knowing the Chamber as well as we do, if they didn’t spend it on lobbying, they’d probably go with the tanks… all the better to quash clean energy reform!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Chamber's Latest: Sometimes, There Just Aren't Words

As far as special interest groups go, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce might just be the #1 Clean Energy and Climate Villain.

Between calling for a "Scopes monkey trial" of global warming science and engaging in a decades-long campaign to defeat legislation that would wean us off foreign oil, the Chamber has done almost everything in its power to stand in the way of clean energy reform. They even spent over a half-million dollars to defeat Martha Coakley in this week's Massachusetts special election for US Senate, boosting a candidate who denies the existence of human-caused global warming and who promised to vote against the clean energy and climate bill now before the Senate.

So we were a bit surprised (to put it mildly) when we saw this sidebar ad from the Chamber of Commerce's multi-million dollar publicity stunt, the "American Free Enterprise" campaign. We took a screenshot of it so its, um, beauty could be preserved forever. It reads:

"American Free Enterprise: Leading the world in clean energy tech will help Free Enterprise create the 20 million new jobs we need. Join the discussion now!"

We chose not to "Become a Fan." No, we don't hate clean energy technology, but we do recognize greenwashing -- especially when it's shoved in our faces.

See, Facebook allows you to target your sidebar ads to users with an interest in particular issues. In this case, we're guessing that the Chamber's greenwashing ad showed up on LCV's page because Facebook has figured out that we're BFFs with clean energy. What that means is that the Chamber is likely specifically targeting Facebook users with an interest in clean energy and climate policy for its greenwashing campaign. Of course the ads don't actually link to any sort of document explaining the Chamber's many proposals for creating clean energy jobs (we would find a blank page especially appropriate for that). They merely take you to the campaign's fan page.

We'll end this post with a quick thought: if McDonald's started targeting vegetarians with an ad campaign promising that the Golden Arches are the future of fresh organic produce, how many do you think they'd convince?