Brad Johnson at WonkRoom has documented how Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a front group for billionaire polluters. In this post, first published here, he dissects what is probably the most idiotic climate inactivist ad ever seen. Perhaps I should create a new category “unintentional humor.”
As Australia burns, animals are going extinct, and freak weather devastates our nation’s heartland, the propaganda arm of Koch Industries continues its bizarre denial of global warming. The multi-billion-dollar international polluter’s Americans for Prosperity “has launched a $140,000 advertising blitz in Virginia” telling the American public that corrupt environmentalists, not billionaire right-wing oil and coal men, are manipulating Congress and the media. According to AFP, these ads “expose the hypocrisy and outrageous economic costs of so-called global warming regulations, taxes, and green energy plans.” One of these ads portrays an “eco-hypocrite” with “three homes and five cars”:
Hey there, I’m Carlton, the wealthy eco-hypocrite. I inherited my money and attended fancy schools. I own three homes and five cars, but always talk with my rich friends about saving the planet. And I want Congress to spend billions on programs in the name of global warming and green energy. Even if it causes massive unemployment, higher energy bills, and digs people like you even deeper into the recession. Who knows, maybe I’ll even make money off of it!
In reality, it is the backers of Americans for Prosperity who are wine-sipping, ballet-loving trust-fund elites, a thousand times more wealthy than the likes of “eco-hypocrite” Al Gore. Charles and David Koch are the scions of Koch Industries, founded as an oil refining business by their father Fred Koch. Fred Koch also helped found the John Birch Society, an ultraconservative organization that believed the U.S. government was controlled by a traitorous cabal of Communist sympathizers.
AFP founder David Koch, with a net worth of about $17 billion, is the richest man in New York City, owning the Fifth Avenue apartment once occupied by Jackie O, a home in the Hamptons, an Aspen retreat, and the Villa Del Sarmiento in Palm Beach. He recently pledged $100 million to the Lincoln Center theater where the New York City Ballet and City Opera perform. In return, the David H. Koch theater will join the American Museum of Natural History’s David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing ($20 million), the Johns Hopkins University’s David H. Koch Cancer Research Building ($20 million), and MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research ($100 million) in being named after this billionaire polluter. Koch enjoys not just ballet and fine art but big game hunts, whose kills he features in his Aspen ski chalet:
Mr. Koch’s home in Aspen, Colo., famous for its New Year’s Eve parties in his bachelor days, boasts trophies from big-game hunts with his father in Botswana and Mozambique. A pair of 130-pound Ugandan elephant tusks frames the dining room.
David’s brother Charles Koch, also a radical right-wing libertarian, founded the Cato Institute and launched the Mercatus Center at George Mason University to dismantle environmental regulations that limit the excesses of his private pollution corporation.
The third Koch brother, William I. Koch, split from Koch Industries to set up his own energy company. Bill Koch, worth only about $2 billion, is famed for his competitive yachting and being a “discerning speculator in his world-class collections of art, wine, and firearms.” His $10-million wine collection was marred by the purchase of $500,000 in counterfeit Chateau Lafite that were supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson.
Well, at least they aren’t hypocrites.
Update At Article XI, Miles Grant writes:
I’m just dumbfounded they’d think we’re this, well, dumb. Is this guy supposed to be a rich snob, a surfer dude, or some combination — Spicoli with a trust fund? And what’s he eating, cheese and crackers? That’s snobby rich people food? You’d think Americans for Prosperity, with millions rolling in every year, would be able to buy some better propaganda for its buddies in the dirty fossil fuel industry.
Update CORRECTION: In their ads, AFP claims “global warming is a hoax.” But just this summer, they were telling reporters they weren’t deniers:
“Annie Patnaude, the organization’s communications director, said the group does not disagree with the science behind global warming, but that people should look at the policies behind bills such as the Lieberman-Warner bill.” [Kalamazoo Gazette, 8/15/08]
So I guess they are hypocrites.
UPDATE: Okay, final update. I contacted Phil Kerpin at Americans for Prosperity, who said that the view expressed in their ad that global warming is a hoax “is not our position.” After saying that Americans for Prosperity doesn’t “take a position on the science,” he admitted that they “do believe there is a scientific debate” as to whether man-made global warming exists.
UPDATE 2: Okay, final final update: Americans for Prosperity has taken down the blog post announcing the ads and removed them from YouTube.
UPDATE 2/12: Ads and the AFP blog post have been restored (here).
— Brad J.