John McCain, Big Oil’s Million-Dollar Maverick

Our guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

This June, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) fully embraced the Big Oil agenda he once called “irresponsible” and “disastrous.” Three years ago, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) opposed President Bush’s Energy Policy Act, saying, “This bill does little to address the immediate energy crisis we face in this country. The handouts to big business and oil companies are irresponsible and will be disastrous for people of Arizona.” This Tuesday, July 22, McCain defended his newfound support for oil drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf by arguing:

My friends, we have to drill off shore. We have to do it. It’s out there and we can do it. And we can do that. The oil executives say within a couple of years we could be seeing results from it. So why not do it?

Watch it:

Sen. McCain believes the oil executives’ false statements that drilling in the OCS would produce results in “a couple of years.” Never mind that an Energy Information Administration analysis determined that access to the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts, and protected areas in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico would “not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.”


There may be one million reasons Sen. McCain now listens to oil executives and ignores energy experts. Since his presidential campaign began in 2007, Sen. McCain received over $1 million in campaign cash from oil and gas interests:

1990 to 2008 cycle (June), Center for Responsive Politics, compiled by Center for American Progress Action Fund.Previously, he raised only $300,000 from oil and gas interests over 16 years, from 1990–2006. This is an average of just $33,000 per election cycle.

So the next time someone claims that Sen. McCain is new kind of conservative, it just means it took him awhile to climb aboard the Big Oil campaign express. But now he rides it with gusto, and steers his positions accordingly, with special access and special favors for petro-polluters.

(H/T Crooks & Liars.)

UPDATE: At the Washington Post, Matthew Mosk writes that McCain has actually received over $1 million in June alone, most after he reversed his opposition to offshore drilling and began repeating false oil industry talking points:

Oil and gas industry executives and employees donated $1.1 million to McCain last month — three-quarters of which came after his June 16 speech calling for an end to the ban — compared with $116,000 in March, $283,000 in April and $208,000 in May.