What's a Republican candidate to do when he's rightfully accused of being beholden to the interests and agenda of Big Oil? Why, wrongfully accuse you
August 8, 2008

What's a Republican candidate to do when he's rightfully accused of being beholden to the interests and agenda of Big Oil? Why, wrongfully accuse your opponent of being beholden to the interests of Big Oil. Just a day after getting publicly busted for taking highly dubious campaign contributions from a Queens, NY, couple with ties to the energy industry, the McCain campaign is selectively citing a Center for Responsive Politics report to make the ludicrous argument that Obama is in the pocket of the oil industry. New McCain communications flack Nicole Wallace -- formerly of Bush Co. -- took to "Morning Joe" this morning to push this deceptive storyline, only to get busted on it despite Joe Scarborough's most valiant effort to cover for her.

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Wallace: "The money story of the week was the day after Barack Obama launched his ad - John McCain, George Bush, blah blah blah, Big Oil - turns out Barack Obama has actually received more money from Exxon-Mobil and from oil than John McCain has..."

A couple things here. First, it is true that Obama has received more contributions from employees of Exxon Mobil than McCain. But it's also true, however, that McCain has received more than three times overall ($1.3 million) from the industry than Obama has.

(note the recent spike after McCain announced his full-throated support for off-shore drilling)

Second, as Steve Benen notes, there's a big difference in the types of contributions flowing to each candidate:

There’s a qualitative and quantitative difference between some low-level Chevron employee chipping in to the Obama campaign, and the kind of bundling we’ve seen from oil executives working on McCain’s behalf. There’s money from the oil industry and then there’s money from the oil industry.

Exactly. Say my wife works as an accountant for Exxon Mobil or Chevron and donates to the Obama campaign. It can hardly be argued that he is being influenced by the industry by taking her contribution. McCain and the RNC, on the other hand, are collection huge, bundled donations that certainly seem to be affecting the GOP energy platform.

Benen also makes this crucial distinction which seems to elude the shrieking wingnuts and clueless pundits:

Let’s not miss the forest for the trees — the problem isn’t just that McCain is taking Big Oil’s cash, it’s that he’s pushing Big Oil’s agenda. That’s a much bigger deal.

That's the point that needs to be hammered home. Regardless of who the contributions come from, the real issue is whether or not those contributions unduly influence the candidate's policy toward the respective industry. If Obama wants to take money from employees of oil companies then use that money to get elected and slap a huge windfall profits tax on the industry, by all means, go right ahead. But to somehow argue that Obama is in the pocket of Big Oil -- when he receives 1/3 of McCain's total large-sum contributions, mind you -- is just rank dishonesty.

Again, it should come as no surprise that this deceitful line of attack comes just one day after McCain is forced to return over $50,000 in questionable oil money. I'm pretty confident that the majority of Americans are smart enough to realize how laughable it is for a Republican to accuse a Democrat of favoring the Big Oil agenda. Then again, the idea was to divert attention away from McCain and his shady dealings. In that vein, it looks like it just may have succeeded.

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