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All-powerful oil lobby a juvenile Obama fantasy

Bob Tippee

There's a reason Hillary Clinton, in her race for the Democratic presidential nomination, is making Barak Obama look juvenile. He acts that way.

Obama, a US senator from Illinois, has been disparaging the oil lobby lately.

"The reason that we're not getting things done is not because we don't have good plans or good policy prescriptions," Obama told an audience in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "The reason is because it's not our agenda that's being moved forward in Washington. It's the agenda of the oil companies, the insurance companies, the drug companies, the special interests who dominate on a day-to-day basis in terms of legislative activity."

In Waverly, Iowa, the Illinois senator called cutting oil demand "an urgent moral challenge" and blamed oil companies for a lack of government action.

"Americans can't come and sit at the table because oil and gas companies have bought every chair," he said.

This kind of blather appeals to people who reflexively assume the most sinister possible interpretation about any event but who generally ignore facts.

To such people, the existence of a potent, evil oil lobby seems not only plausible but likely. Facts, however, indicate otherwise.

If an all-powerful oil lobby manipulated events in Washington, DC, the worst energy legislation in decades would not now await action in a House-Senate conference.

If an all-powerful oil lobby had existed in years past, drilling would be under way on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, off the East and West Coasts, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and on inaccessible federal land the US West. By now, some or all of these areas might be producing oil and gas.

If an all-powerful oil lobby controlled events in Washington, DC, several modern refineries might be under construction or on stream where none exist now, and existing refineries wouldn't be under stress.

The fact is that no such lobby exists. Yes, the oil and gas industry has a lobby. All industries have lobbies. But the suggestion that the oil lobby accomplishes more than occasionally keeping the government from acting on its worst impulses is laughable.

(Online Aug. 27, 2007; author's e-mail:

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