Some disturbing evidence about the oil companies hurting all of us. That's the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.
As you know, gas prices have gone through the roof this spring, hurting many Americans who are on tight budgets.
For the past year, The Factor has been looking into the possibility that oil companies are behind the dramatic rise in energy prices. First, there are the record profits the oil companies are making in a time of recession. Then there are the unexplained spikes at the gas pumps.
Now there is damning evidence. Documents obtained by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden suggest that the oil companies purposely restricted the production of gasoline to shrink supply.
According to a Chevron Corporation document written in 1995, big oil had a plan. Here's the pithy part of the memo: "If the U.S. petroleum industry doesn't reduce its refining capacity, it will never see any substantial increase in refinery profits."
A Texaco memo written in 1996 says that refining over-capacity was the most critical factor in poor financial results.
So what basically happened was that big American oil companies stopped building oil refineries knowing that would squeeze the supply and drive up prices. That's like the food companies telling farmers not to grow anything for a year so that food would become scarce, and that is unacceptable in America.
The oil company strategy happened on President Clinton's watch, of course, because there was no federal enforcement in any of the departments. Under Mr. Clinton, drugs poured into America at a great rate. Some vital secrets were stolen by the Chinese. An FBI agent fed the Russians top-secret information. The Justice Department punted on almost every major investigation. And perhaps a billion dollars in education funds are missing.
Simply put, there was little federal oversight on anything because the the president was so busy trying to survive. He and his minions didn't pay attention to the vital interests of the country, and now you and I are paying for that soft focus on economic shenanigans. We have a recession, we have high energy prices, we have power chaos in California.
Meantime, Mr. Clinton continues to scoop up huge dollars giving speeches overseas. On behalf of the 60 percent of poor fourth graders who can't read, thanks a lot, Mr. President.
The Bush administration now wants to build more oil refineries. Well, that's swell, but Dick Cheney, as head of the energy policy, ought to start an intense investigation into collusion on the part of the oil companies to artificially drive up prices that are hurting all of us by cutting down refining capacity.
If Mr. Cheney does not launch that investigation, then we as citizens are defenseless in the face of corporations manipulating vital necessities. Teddy Roosevelt is rolling over in his grave.
And that's the memo.
Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
The anti-fur people are all over the place these days, as designer Calvin Klein found out. Fur protesters hit Klein with a tofu cream pie simply because he was standing next to a designer that makes clothes from animal skin.
Six members of the PETA group were arrested, which of course is just what they wanted. I would have taken them from McDonald's, which would have been cruel and unusual punishment, and ridiculous to boot.
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