Bob Tippee

In the old days they kissed babies. Now they scold oil companies.

Politicians are politicians. As they grub for votes and money, they'll say anything they think they can get away with. In Vermont, where oil and gas work must seem other-worldly, a politician evidently can say plenty about oil companies.

Vermont's Patrick Leahy, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spread political ooze thick this week during a hearing on industry consolidation (OGJ Online, Mar. 15, 2006). He trashed oil and the people who produce it, even faulting industry executives for not anticipating Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Amid the vitriol, he managed to figuratively kiss Vermont babies. It was a melodramatic appeal for every energy mistake ever contemplated by a nation that has made many of them, all flowing from thoroughgoing ignorance and base opportunism. His words speak for themselves:

--"Before the committee today are executives from the five biggest oil companies. In a year when these corporations posted record profits, we also saw them increase their prices."

--"Since 1999, oil refiners have seen a 334% increase in yield on each gallon of gasoline refined because of prices they set, the lack of transparency, and the lack of effective regulation."

--"The rest of America rallies together when America is suffering. In contrast, instead of preparing for possible shortfalls or emergencies, it appears the oil industry has focused on taking advantage of consumers who have no alternatives."

--"For a typical Vermont farmer the impacts of your lousy planning can be catastrophic."

--"Vermont's dairy farmers, who get up every day well before the sun rises, whether it is minus 15 degrees or whether it's pouring rain or pelting snow, cannot do their jobs without your product. . . .That is how you get the cream for your morning coffee each day. So after that cup tomorrow I would like you all to think about preparing for emergencies instead of preparing to take advantage of emergencies."

Take that, you anti-American, greed-ridden, price-setting, late-sleeping, poor-planning oil company executives! And toast Leahy's grip on economic reality by taking "that cup tomorrow" black.

(Online Mar. 17, 2006; author's e-mail:

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