Washington Matters


The Bamboozle Pros Are at it Again



There is little more entertaining in Washington during a slow summer than watching how various interests try to put one over on reporters and the public. Try this one: If a rally is called to demand (big dramatic pause, as indicated by very excited punctuation and capitalization) that the government "Stop the War on the Poor!" -- what do you think the actual policy goal is?

A new poverty program in light of the tough economic times? Nope. Ending the war in Iraq so the money could be used here at home? Nah. How about allowing the drilling for oil offshore and in protected park lands? Bingo!

But while that is the actual purpose, you won't find the words "oil drilling" or anything like them in the press release  announcing the rally. The closest you'd come to getting an inkling of the cause is rhetoric saying the protesters will "attack those politicians who are conducting...a 'War On The Poor' by encouraging energy prices to skyrocket."

You don't get the real tip-off unless you bother to read the contact information at the bottom of page and find out the sponsoring group is the patriotic-sounding Americans for American Energy. While the group promotes itself as a grass-roots organization, it was actually created by a PR firm given a $3 million contract by the state of Alaska. The state's government generally favors opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas exploration and drilling.

While this is a particularly gross example, the use of front-groups and phony grass-roots organizations is nothing new. And it's doubtful that a single news outlet will fall for it. Whether more oil drilling is good or bad for the country is an important debate, but this is a less than honest way to promote it. Lawmakers and business leaders who support the goals of Americans for American Energy ought to be outraged and should denounce such tactics and then distance themselves from any group engaging in them




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