The Rachel Maddow Show: Stealth Campaigning

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Rachel reports on more astroturf groups, this time from the petroleum industry, and their efforts to affect health care and energy policy.

From The Houston Chronicle-- Energy workers rally against climate plan:

Local energy workers jammed a downtown Houston theater today to protest climate change legislation that the U.S. Senate will take up in the coming weeks.

The Energy Citizens rally, promoted by some major energy companies and business organizations as well as the Greater Houston Partnership, is the first of several such events planned in 19 states in the coming weeks.

About 3,500 people, or 1,500 more than expected, filed into the facility, many donning yellow T-shirts that were being handed out that read "I'm an energy citizen." Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. was the keynote speaker.

And TPM has more: "Sensitive" Oil Industry Memo Lays Out Plan For Astroturf Rallies Against Climate Change Bill:

A leaked memo sent by an oil industry group reveals a plan to create astroturf rallies at which industry employees posing as "citizens" will urge Congress to oppose climate change legislation.

The memo -- sent by the American Petroleum Institute and obtained by Greenpeace, which sent it to reporters -- urges oil companies to recruit their employees for events that will "put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy," and will urge senators to "avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill."

API tells TPMmuckraker that the campaign is being funded by a coalition of corporate and conservative groups that includes the anti-health-care-reform group 60 Plus, FreedomWorks, and Grover Norquist's Americans For Tax Reform.

The memo, signed by API president Jack Gerard, asks recipients to give API "the name of one central coordinator for your company's involvement in the rallies."

And it warns: "Please treat this information as sensitive ... we don't want critics to know our game plan."

Aside from the astroturf nature of the planned events, which appear aimed at passing off industry employees as independent citizens, the memo also raises questions about the positions of several major oil companies on the issue of climate change. BP and Shell both are members of API, and also of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of groups that supports Waxman-Markey, the very climate change legislation the memo criticizes.

API has spent over $3 million lobbying against that bill this year.

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