by Paul Winkelmann
One natural property of oil is that when it is combined with
most anything else, it tends to separate and rise to the top.
We've had an opportunity to see this phenomenon demonstrated
on many occasions.
When Iran was governed by a brutally oppressive Shah, it
was his America-friendly oil policy that kept him floating
far above our government's reproach. The Shah limited his
terror to Iran's citizenry so we turned a blind wallet to
his misdeeds. Iran's current regime overthrew the Shah and
extended its terror beyond its own borders. We are against
terrorists (well at least some terrorists, the president even
said so) so we try to keep our distance from them. But I have
no doubt that their radical leanings are a minor drawback
that our government would overlook if only Iran would be just
a little bit more cooperative with our nation's oil companies.
An Iraqi experiment in mixing two dissimilar components,
our Kuwaiti oil interests and Saddam's dream of expanding
his own regional power, was declared a scientific disaster
when our military skewed Iraq's test results. America's might
kept Kuwait from settling to the bottom of Saddam's laboratory
beaker. This disagreement we had with Iraq hasn't kept us
from purchasing Iraqi oil though. We disguise it as food funding
but everyone knows the profit goes into financing the creation
of weapons of mass destruction. Maybe one day BP Amoco will
put a centrifuge into operation that can separate the terror
money from the food money. Until then, Saddam is free to make
anthrax by the barrel-full.
It was the promise of an Afghani oil and gas pipeline that
made our current president forget all about the transgressions
of the Taliban and their most infamous guests. Bush's $40
million gift to Afghanistan in early 2001 and his administration's
stalling of counter-terrorism investigations aimed at the
al Qaeda and the Taliban regime illustrates that even when
encased in a long cylindrical piece of pipe, oil (and its
influence) is still a remarkably buoyant cure for scruples.
The noxious fumes created by highly-compressed and super-heated
prehistoric flora have always risen up to cloud America's
foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia. It doesn't matter how
many terrorists are funded, trained, or given safe haven by
the Saudis, the vaporous toxicity of oil profits has made
our country's voice of condemnation squeamishly silent when
dealing with these particular "supporters of terrorism." Even
the president's dad doesn't mind frolicking around in the
glistening slick of Saudi petro-dollars. It has made him,
all his old administration buddies, and all their future heirs
quite a bundle.
Another distinguishing property of any petroleum product
is what an amazing lubricant it makes.
Witness the eel-like contortions of the ever so buttery Vice
President, Dick Cheney. Dozens of oil company positions have
left him with a permanent 10w30-like coating. It has enabled
him slip-slide his way around Congressional and GAO demands
that he hand over all paperwork related to his secret energy
policy meetings. He claims that no one would offer him advice
if the authors of that advice and the advice itself, weren't
kept from public scrutiny.
Do we honestly want the country being led around by the nose,
by unmentionable sources who stand to profit from the policy
they're concocting in Cheney's bunker? If it's impartial and
beneficial to the country, then how could it possibly be embarrassing
or harmful to its proponents? But what do I know? I'm just
a private citizen who isn't going to get a few hundred thousand
campaign dollars or a seat on some energy company's board
of directors a few years after the policy is implemented.
Cheney is just oily enough to get both.
And whoops, when the Enron Lay-dez ran aground, spilling
its entire cargo of 401k's and jobs, the oil (and natural
gas and electricity) soaked captain, Kenneth Lay, was able
to drag himself safely to shore, smoothly gliding through
the lubed up palms of every government regulatory agency in
existence. Lay barely survived. At last count, he was down
to his last six vacation homes.
As the shiny black film was spreading towards the White House,
the Vaseline-tongued spokesman for the President assured the
American public that Captain Lay's distress calls went unanswered
by the administration (an administration that was up to its
neck in Enron ex-employees and ex-stockholders who were all
on Lay's speed-dial). And that, honest, Bush had no prior
knowledge of his friend's predicament.
What is not mentioned is that Lay's bestest buddy, President
Bush, had already thrown Captain Lay; a FERC boss, a California
energy crisis bonanza, some very Enron-friendly regulations,
a prominent voice in our country's energy policy, and that
Bush was already preparing to toss Enron some tax rebate life
preservers worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Another subject that didn't make Ari Fleischer's talking
points was why, while the largest bankruptcy in American history
was occurring, was there no governmental oversight. The most
colossal retirement eating, paper shredding, device, known
to man, was permitted to run unabated, 24/7, and nobody had
the foresight to investigate the sound of its grinding sprockets
and pinions. Its inner pieces, parts and lubricants were being
expelled all across D.C. and our president never gave it a
second thought, even when he found himself wading in a knee-deep
pool of its gear grease.
The latest discovery about the properties of oil is that
the riches made from it can cause a victim to lose his mental
facilities and gain a sense of brazen invulnerability, on
Six months worth of Alaskan oil will solve our energy woes.
Oil won't harm Jeb's coast. Oil once gave me the Heimlich
maneuver when I was choking. If we don't drill, the terrorists
win. All plausible, if you've sniffed enough Texan Crude fumes.
Bush was there when Enron drove in its first drill, when
they hit a gusher, and when everybody's ten-gallon hats were
filled to the brim with million dollar bills. But now that
the well is spewing out nothing but confetti, we are expected
to believe that Bush can only identify Kenneth Lay as a Democratic
supporter from his rival's distant past. REALLY! What next?
The Holocaust never happened. We never landed on the moon.
Fantastic history rewrites are usually the product of some
slightly touched right-wing extremist, so why is Bush - oh
- right...what was I thinking?
And his poor mother-in-law. She risked all her canasta winnings
on Enron stock. Tens of dollars, gone in a puff of smoke.
Now there's some real parenthetical evidence that Bush was
completely in the dark.
Just like when he cashed out early on Harken Energy. Dad
was serving as 41, the future 43 was one of 41's closer advisors
but claims he was never let in on where and when 41 was going
to rain holy hell on Saddam. 43 never suspected that his insider
position on Harken's board obligated him to provide a timely
notification, to the proper governmental regulatory agency,
before he dumped any of his, soon to be worthless, stock.
Soon to be worthless because, only a week later, the Gulf
War made Harken's oil contracts in the Mid-East moot. So armed
with the Gulf-War starting time, that he never received, 43,
in what he can only describe as an episode of epiphany, made
the decision to rid himself of Harken stock.
Bush's sloth-like reflexes enabled him to file his stock
transaction with the SEC, a mere 6 months too late. This did
not go unnoticed by the SEC. Luckily this was 41's SEC. They
weren't as harsh on 43 as a real SEC might have been. They
kinda enjoyed his "Gosh, I didn't know" routine. So, 43 scampered
away with an obligatory slap on the wrist and a warning to
be more attentive. And with, of course, all the profits that
those sticklers for rules failed to pocket. Bush has long
suffered from situational cluelessness and it has served him
well over the years. And the timing - always impeccable.
Dubya's condition is symptomatic of someone languishing in
the later stages of oil money exposure. For instance, Bush
has a hard time recalling any conversations with Kenny-boy.
It's a struggle for Bush to recollect any recent contact with
Kenny-boy. Enron...duh - what's Enron? It's Harken redux.
Either he doesn't care what the public thinks or he naively
believes that we're buying this amnesia act. My money is riding
on him being one of the dumbest oilmen since Jethro Bodine.
And this is the best part, the all-time slipperiest excuse
for the whole Enron mess is that (drum roll please) "Clinton
did it too." Yep, the administration that ran on the "We'll
do everything opposite of Clinton" ticket, now finds itself
pleading with the public to accept the fact that they are
exactly like Clinton. Irony is so cruel.
If the past is any indicator, expect, at any moment, the
president to issue a press release explaining how his administration,
in the future, will avoid even the appearance of petroleum
and petroleum byproducts. Expect it to be about as effective
as was his "appearance of impropriety" declaration. Expect
it to also include a veiled reference to the moral shortcomings
of the previous administration unabashedly made by the ethically
challenged current administration. Expect it to partisanly
attack the lack of bi-partisanship within the ranks of the
Above all, expect it to include a call for a capital gains
tax cut because, after all, "without this tax cut, petro-over-taxation
threatens to destroy America and (insert flag reference),
(insert another patriotic reference), (insert god loves America
reference), (insert threat towards small terrorist harboring
oil producing nation) NOTE: Do not mention larger oil producing
countries who harbor terrorists and/or who employ dad, (insert
"lucky to be serving as your president" conclusion)."
And, off course, expect this statement to be drafted at a
secret meeting attended by Cheney and a few unnamed advisors.
Who will then shred all evidence of their presence.