Profiteering Through Puppeteering: API Ads On Protecting Oil Tax Breaks

So the American Petroleum Institute is out with more ads that feature “person on the street” interviews with ordinary Americans. You know, the kind of folks that go to bed at night worried about those mean people in Washington threatening to take away the billions in tax breaks currently enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry.

Leaving aside the substance — that high gas prices are already enriching oil companies on top of their tax breaks, and the industry has enjoyed hundreds of billions in government support for a very long time — you have to wonder how ads like this get made in the first place. Do those folks really walk around on the street, and a camera pops up in front of them, and they blurt out deep-seated and authentic desires to protect aggrieved mega-corporations?

Greenpeace investigated this in 2011, and got some audio evidence of the direction these “people on the street” receive from the directors.

The people who appear in the ads are assured that : “… all they do is the director feeds them the lines and he talks them through it.” As a result, they end up saying crazy things like “I think taxing the oil and gas industry does nothing but harm the country” on national television.


So keep that in mind when you see the people in these ads: It’s more profiteering through puppeteering than any genuine concern about energy costs.