Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Smokey Joe" Rakes in Natural Gas $$ While Blocking Clean Energy Reform

Talk about a conflict of interest.

Rep. "Smokey Joe" Barton (R-TX) has been raking in money from a stake he holds in a series of natural gas wells he purchased from a campaign donor.

The Dallas Morning News says it all:
Rep. Joe Barton has earned nearly $100,000 from an interest in natural gas wells that he purchased from a longtime campaign donor who also advised the congressman on energy policy, according to interviews and records.

At a hearing last month of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Barton said he was "a small, small partner in a natural gas well in Johnson County in the Barnett Shale that is probably my 4-year-old son's college education." He later told a reporter that he couldn't remember precisely how he obtained the interest.

Land records show that Barton, R-Arlington, purchased his interest from Walter G. Mize, a Cleburne businessman who donated more than $30,000 to Barton's campaigns.
At least one expert on Congress called Barton's position "unethical":
"If you are elected as a public servant to try to do what is right for the public generally and then you use that position to help bring in material wealth, I think it's unethical," said James Thurber, a distinguished professor of government at American University.
We'd also call Joe Barton's numerous distortions of climate change science -- including saying that global warming would be a "net benefit" to the economy -- unethical, but that's for another day.

Phony "Climategate" Scandal: Who's Distorting NOW?

Even in our line of work here at R?S? -- exposing the well-funded truth distorters behind attacks on clean energy -- we are sometimes dumbfounded at how willing Big Oil's friends in the media are to completely ignore reality and write their own storylines.

Take today's op-ed from Michael Barone in the Washington Examiner: on the same day that the Pennsylvania State University essentially cleared climatologist Dr. Michael Mann of distorting research following the phony "climategate" scandal, Barone penned an op-ed heaping abuse on climate scientists for... distorting science in the phony "climategate" scandal.

No, really. You have to see a smear this stupid to believe it:
Quick, name the most distrusted occupations. Trial lawyers? Pretty scuzzy, as witness the disgraced John Edwards, kept from the vice presidency in 2004 by the electoral votes of Ohio. Used car dealers? Always near the bottom of the list, as witness the universal understanding of the word "clunker."

But over the last three months a new profession has moved smartly up the list and threatens to overtake all. Climate scientist.

First came the Climategate e-mails made public in November that showed how top-level climate scientists distorted research, plotted to destroy data and conspired to prevent publication of dissenting views.
Did you hear that? They plotted! They destroyed! They CONSPIRED! Those dastardly distorters dare to delude us with declarations of the coming destruction of our planet! We must deluge them with derision and disrupt their disinforming ways!!

Nevermind that Mann didn't distort anything: it's too good a story to let the facts stand in the way.

In case you're wondering who's really behind an attack as transparently absurd as this, Barone's piece is being pushed out today by the American Enterprise Institute, which was caught up in a scandal of its own when the UK's Guardian newspaper discovered that the group -- which has taken more than $1.6 million from ExxonMobil -- was offering cash to scientists if they'd stand up and criticize the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's landmark 2007 report:
Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered.
Now, unlike the manufactured "climategate" scandal, that's what actually getting caught red-handed looks like.

Sidebar: While we normally assume that no one takes the Examiner too seriously (for non-DC types, it's a free paper distributed primarily to Metro riders and foaming-at-the-mouth partisans), Michael Barone is really hitting a new low here. When he's not slumming around with the Examiner and AEI, Barone is a senior writer for US News & World Report and co-author of the excellent Almanac of American Politics.

Needless to say, we're disappointed how far he's fallen.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The McSupremes: Our Favorite Post-Citizens United Photoshop Job

As R?S? regulars are well aware, we didn't think much of the Supreme Court's recent 5-4 decision to open the floodgates to unfettered corporate spending in elections. Neither did LCV's President, Gene Karpinski.

In fact, a wide range of respected individuals and media outlets roundly criticized the decision. Even retired moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor took a swipe at the ruling.

But a picture says a thousand words, and in this case, it's funny enough that we had to share it with you:

We have no idea where it came from (it arrived in this R?S? blogger's inbox via chain email), but our mystery author sure knew who was likely to benefit from the ability to dump millions on federal elections: logos for ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell Oil are all prominently displayed on the robes of the pro-corporate majority.