Big Oil’s New Darling

John McCain built his maverick image in part by being a Republican senator who’s willing to go against Big Oil. As recently as June 13, he had this to say about the petro giants: “I am very angry, frankly, at the oil companies, not only because of the obscene profits they’ve made, but at their failure to invest in alternate energy to help us eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.”

Good stuff! McCain has long stood up to oil corporations on such big issues as their demand that we open all of America’s shorelines to their drilling rigs. But that John McCain has disappeared. On June 16, he gave another talk in which he reversed his position. “My friends, we have to drill offshore,” he now says. “We have to do it.”

Why? Because, he explains, “the oil executives” told him it would be a good thing.

Wait … I thought he was angry at those thieves. Not any more. Right after his June 16 flip-flop, he flew off to Texas for a round of fundraisers with-guess who?-oil executives! On June 17, he had a closed-door luncheon with energy honchos at the San Antonio Country Club and walked out with a love offering of $1.3 million for his campaign.

A McCain spokesman rushed out to assert that it is “completely absurd” for anyone to suggest that the senator’s switch on drilling had anything to do with big oil’s money. Maybe he’s confused by the “position equals money” relationships of politics, but the oil barons definitely are not. Prior to McCain’s miraculous conversion, they had not been big backers of the senator, but once they heard his new position, the cash spigots opened.

As one adviser to oil companies said of McCain’s switch: “I think the industry was very appreciative.”


Perhaps you thought that television news programs couldn’t get any cheesier or more corporate. If so, you have seriously underestimated the cheesiness of the Fox affiliate in Las Vegas.

The morning news show on KVVU has literally given McDonald’s a seat at the news desk. No, make that on the news desk. Placed in front of the news anchors are two cups of McDonald’s iced coffee.

Only, Jason and Monica never take a sip. They can’t, since the drinks are fake. They are a glaring product-placement advertisement paid for by the fast-food huckster. Viewers are never told that the cups are an ad, and neither Fox nor McDonald’s will say how much gold exchanged hands to put the Golden Arches on the set each day.

What if there’s a breaking news story involving the restaurant chain? Not to worry, say station executives, because in that case the cups would be temporarily displaced from the news desk. And you thought there were no ethics left in journalism.

Otherwise, the corporate suits running the place see no problem with this little deceit. It’s merely a “nontraditional revenue source,” says KVVU’s news director.McDonald’s also has similar placement deals with Fox stations in Chicago and Seattle. Maybe this advance in “newsvertisements” will make it to your town, too.


Every now and then, reason, outrage, and citizen activism combine to defeat the forces of avarice. This is one of those times: Children, organic farmers, and cows have just triumphed over mighty Monsanto Co. and its political handmaidens.

For years, this biotech behemoth has thrown its weight around in Washington, in the media, and in state governments, trying to force Americans to swallow Posilac. You wouldn’t know the name of this artificial growth hormone, because Monsanto spent millions trying to hide it from consumers.

But Posilac is not a product that people wanted. It’s essentially a bioengineered sex hormone that’s injected into dairy cows to force their bodies to produce more milk. It’s not at all healthy for the cows, and it provides no health benefits for humans.

So the corporation weaseled its way into government, getting a ruling that Posilac milk did not have to be labeled as such. That was not enough though, since farmers and retailers began labeling their products as free of the artificial hormones. So Monsanto tried suing them and tried to get the feds and state officials to outlaw the hormone-free labels.

People fought back, and even such giants as Wal-Mart responded to consumer rejection of Posilac by selling undoctored milk in its stores. Monsanto has now thrown in the towel, announcing it is quitting its Posilac business.

This is a major victory for ordinary folks who refused to be bullied by corporate muscle. For more information, call the Center for Food Safety: 202-547-9359.

For more information on Jim Hightower’s work-and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown-visit His latest book, with Susan DeMarco, is Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow.

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Published at 12:00 am CST