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By Robert Rapier on Oct 17, 2007 with no responses

Where I Go for Comic Relief

I am going to have to start issuing my own press releases. That’s what our good friends at Oil Watchdog – the oil-hating arm of the FTCR, like to do. They write their own press releases – daily – and use as reference material other press releases they have written. Their sources are frequently “Insider”, who frequently says very silly things. Not the kind of things an actual insider would say. Things like this: “Oil companies have cut back production in refineries to a mere 87 percent of potential and the surplus in storage tanks is drying up fast.”

Sounds like someone never heard of fall turnaround season. You know, that time of year – every year – where utilization falls and finished product inventories tend to get pulled down. Let me make a stunning prediction: It will happen again next spring. And again next fall. An insider would know that, and they would know why it happens in fall and spring. But I digress.

Oil Watchdog had fallen to the level of occasional comic relief for me, but I see that their latest press-release has even been picked up by the New York Times, which apparently has very low standards:

Spike in Crude Oil Price to $88/Barrel Without New Runup in Pump Price Exposes Oil Industry Deception, Profiteering

“Oil companies exert nearly complete control over the supply of gasoline, through decisions about their refineries, their oil and gasoline imports, and the supply they keep on hand,” said Dugan. “They can roughly tune the supply to match their price targets.”

This is truly priceless. Let’s refresh our memories here.

They whined about oil company greed.
They whined about oil company generosity.

They whined when gas prices went high.
They whined when gas prices went low.

They whined that oil companies aren’t making biofuels.
They whined that oil companies are making biofuels.

They whined that oil companies were funding research into finding more oil.
They whined that oil companies were funding research into alternative fuels.

I could go on. Really. They wrote an article called Defining Gouging. I thought, “Finally. At least someone made an attempt.” Then I read the article. They didn’t define gouging. They just went on and on about the need for anti-gouging legislation. As far as I can tell, they must sit around in a room and brainstorm every day on how to put a negative slant on any story involving oil companies.

So, you can see why I finally got bored with Oil Watchdog. After a while, you figure out that your opponent has an energy IQ of 60, and then you realize that there is no sport in the debate. After all, look what Oil Watchdog did in response to being challenged on their claims.

First, they chose to hide the comments. Originally they were visible by default. Second, they chose to label critics with: “This commentor has been flagged as a suspected shill for BigOil. You can view the history of their comments by clicking on the user’s screen name at the end of this entry.” But, they must have felt like they were still getting pummeled, because now they have taken the step of requiring comments to be approved before posting. That’s right, they now censor those who challenge their ludicrous claims. For their current entry, it looks like they have locked comments. Don’t know if this is the newest trend.

Perhaps the biggest irony is their frequent criticisms of oil companies donating money to various causes. Why? Because they won’t reveal the source of their own funding. It has been established that they are a front for trial lawyers. Their many articles on the “hot gas lawsuit” could have provided a hint. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But don’t be hypocrites. Be up front about what you are doing. Let the world know why you are promoting anti-gouging legislation and hot gas lawsuits. Who might benefit there?

You could have used your organization to promote an actual discussion of the critical energy issues facing the world. Instead, by hiding behind the veil of “consumer advocates”, and by writing about subjects that you are ignorant of, you have made yourselves into laughingstocks.