The Hightower Report

Stop Subsidizing Big Oil; and Al Needs a Job

STOP SUBSIDIZING BIG OIL

In 2006, the CEO of ExxonMobil exclaimed that, gosh, his corporation was rolling in so much profit that he simply didn't know how to spend it all.

Well, one place worthy of major investment would have been research and development on alternative fuels to help America break its dependency on ever more expensive and ever more polluting oil. But, no go. Two years later, with oil more than $100 a barrel and Exxon's profits topping $40 billion a year, the rationale for such an investment is even stronger. Yet, the oil giant recently rejected a congressional request that it start putting 10% of its earnings into alternative energy development.

OK, maybe we don't even want Big Oil mucking around in solar, wind, hydrogen, and other renewables, since they would try to monopolize production and engage in the same kind of gouging they do with oil products. But here's one small step Congress could take toward new energy resources: Repeal the $1.8 billion annual tax subsidy that the Bushites gave to the oil industry in the 2004 tax bill. Instead of continuing to put this freebie in the pockets of the Exxons, let's invest these tax dollars in a renewable-energy future – $1.8 billion would roughly double what Washington now spends for R&D on alternative sources.

Besides, with $100-a-barrel oil and the Top 5 corporations banking $123 billion in yearly profits, why are we taxpayers subsidizing them? We already pay a king's ransom at the pump, so let's cut off this tax giveaway they never should have gotten in the first place. But you can never overestimate oil company greed. Industry executives and lobbyists are now whining to Congress that, since oil prices might come down someday, they should be able to keep this subsidy as a cushion.

Hey, build your cushion the old-fashioned way – with your rip-off profits.

AL NEEDS A JOB

Poor Al – he's all résumé, no job. Sort of a yuppified version of "All hat, no cattle."

And what a résumé he has: graduate of Harvard Law School, a Republican political prodigy in Texas, state Supreme Court justice at an early age, chief lawyer for the president of the United States, and then – to put the cherry on the political banana split – he became U.S. attorney general, America's top lawyer. Yet, now, the guy is reduced to carrying a handwritten cardboard sign at the intersection saying, "Will work for $600 an hour."

Alberto Gonzales can't get a job. While junior staffers from his own department are being snagged for high-paying influence-peddling jobs in Washington, Al can't get a bite. Having been forced to resign as attorney general, the Texan who flowered in the manure of George W.'s corporate-financed rise to power has been putting out feelers to the very corporate law firms that fueled his rise to the legal heights. But, alas, no takers. As one principal of a powerhouse Washington law firm gently said of Gonzales' failed application: "I wouldn't say 'rebuffed.' I would say 'not taken up.'"

Gonzales confused personal loyalty to the Bush regime with public responsibility. Legalize torture? He'd find a way. Use the Justice Department as a political hit squad? He was OK with that. Go before Congress and play a dummy? Hey, count on Al.

Unfortunately, this tail-wagging, doglike loyalty to the Bushites caused Gonzales to be seen as, let's say, less-than-truthful, even to Republican lawmakers. Plus, he's facing possible criminal charges for his prevarications. So the special-interest law firms that once lionized him for his fealty to their agenda are now not returning his phone calls.

Mamas, don't let your boys or girls grow up to be political hacks, for their loyalty will not be rewarded.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

oil, ExxonMobil, alternative fuels, Alberto Gonzales

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