Beginning last week, the oil industry launched a national astroturfing effort called “Rally for Jobs.” The events, which are being held across the nation, are backed by right-wing billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. They launched a nearly identical campaign last summer that was widely mocked for its obvious astroturfing after it was revealed that 15 of the 21 Energy Citizens events were actually planned by oil industry lobbyists.
ThinkProgress attended one of the rallies yesterday in Canton, Ohio. What was billed as an organic grassroots jobs rally quickly descended into attacks on three things the Kochs most oppose: global warming science, oil safety regulations, and Democrats. One of the speakers, Sgt. Dennis Bartow, called global warming a “hoax.” He was joined by Karen Wright, CEO of the gas company Ariel Corporation, who ridiculed climate change as “questionable science” and referred to pollutants as “so-called carbon dioxide emissions.” Wright went on to rail against “so-called green jobs” that were “dubious” and “phony.”
Other speakers later dismissed attacks on the oil industry’s safety record, particularly in the wake of the Gulf oil spill. Radio host Matt Patrick called the deepwater drilling moratorium “ridiculous” and compared it to a ban on building houses because one caught on fire. Wright “did a quick Google search” on the oil industry’s safety record and openly wondered why Congress doesn’t ban cars because the number of auto accident deaths far exceeds the number of oil industry deaths. Wright also gleefully proclaimed that the oil spill is “all gone,” a claim that is easily dispelled with a quick Google search.
Many of the speakers also rallied the crowd against Ohio’s Democrats in Congress. For example, after telling audience members that he wasn’t going to call out particular politicians nor indict a single political party, Patrick — literally ten seconds later — called out only Democrats by name:
I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s all one political party or that it’s this politician or that politician. You’ve got some people right now in the state of Ohio that want nothing more than to tax small businesses right out of business. You know who they are. And John Boccieri and Zack Space and Tim Ryan and Betty Sutton and Charlie Wilson, this message is for you. We’re coming after you. Good luck in November!
Of the approximately 400 who showed up for the rally, “most arrived in four buses” that were paid for and organized by oil and gas companies. ThinkProgress caught up with one of the attendees, who confirmed that Marathon Petroleum arranged a bus to bring over 50 of its employees to the rally.
Watch the highlights here: