Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Oil and Grilling Don't Mix

Dana Milbank on yesterday's Kabuki Theater Senate hearings in which our fearless elected representatives take on Big Oil:

At times, the senators seemed to be bigger boosters of the industry than the executives themselves. Under questioning from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore., $12,500), all five executives testified that they did not need the tax breaks in the recent energy bill.

"That energy legislation is zero in terms of how it affects Exxon Mobil," said the company's chairman, Lee Raymond.

This did not sit well with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex., $306,820). "But," she asked, don't the tax breaks "make a difference" in investment decisions?

Raymond would not play along. "They will not significantly alter the programs that we have," he said. Stevens scratched his head.

More than one senator begged the executives to help them explain high energy prices to consumers. "Please," said Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M., $164,158), "describe in detail how the price of oil is set." Nobody volunteered. So Domenici called on Raymond to "put yourself in my shoes."

A good measure of the extent to which Stevens, et al are in Big Oil's pocket. Not only did they tell the committee to shove their windfall profits tax and charitable funding for home heating programs, Mr. Exxon & Co. couldn't even be bothered to maintain the myth that the energy bill was anything more than a gratuitious goodie bag bought and paid for with their PAC dollars.

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