I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that today’s Joplin Globe featured a story—four-columns with a three-column photo—about Ozark Billy Long’s gas-pumping-and-lying-about-oil-production tour, most recently acted out in Carthage.
Expecting a puff piece on Long (it turns out that was the job of local television), I was pleasantly surprised that the writer, Wally Kennedy, did include some valuable contrary evidence to Long’s assertions about how much effect increased oil production would have on gas prices and, indeed, Long’s flagrantly false statement about current American oil production.
Here’s how Kennedy wrote up Long’s assertions:
As he placed the nozzle in Mack Shipp’s vehicle, Long asked, “Fill it up?”
Long told Shipp, of Carthage, that he is co-sponsoring three energy bills that would decrease oil prices, create thousands of jobs and increase America’s energy independence by ramping up oil production in the United States.
“They have forgot [sic] about drilling for oil here,” Long told Shipp.
Oh, yeah? Long’s energy bills would decrease oil prices? “They” have “forgot” about drilling here at home?
Fortunately, Wally Kennedy included a section at the end of his piece highlighting comments from Deron Lovaas, a “transportation expert” with the non-profit, non-partisan Natural Resources Defense Council, a group dedicated to protecting the environment.
Here is a comment Lovaas made about the House bills Long touted:
The reality is that they will not affect gas prices. We are shackled to a global oil marketplace. When the price of crude goes up and down, it drags prices at the pump with it.
Lovaas also addressed the relationship of production to domestic oil prices by using Canada as an example:
They process 1½ times what they consume. Their prices track our prices. It’s because of the giant global oil marketplace. We can’t make a dent in globally determined prices.
Get that? Canada produces more oil than it actually uses, yet prices are in line with prices here. How can that be, Colonel Billy?
Here is an excerpt from an article from The Canadian Press, posted today:
The April report showed inflation in Canada was almost completely tied to gas and energy — with energy prices 17.1 per cent higher than a year earlier and gasoline prices 26.4 per cent higher.
By the way, according to Canada Facts, “Nearly all of the surplus is exported to the USA,” and “The USA buys more oil from Canada than from any other country, including Saudi Arabia.”
One would think that those energy-rich Canadians (they have the world’s third largest proven oil reserves) would be smart enough to use all their excess energy production to keep their energy prices low at home, but, alas, they don’t have an Ozark Billy advising them.
Colonel Long’s other fib, that, “They have forgot about drilling for oil here,” was also disposed of by Kennedy-Lovaas:
With regard to production, Lovaas said: “Production is going to continue. We have more producing oil wells in the United States than all of the other nations combined. We produce a lot of oil in this country. The number of new rigs is actually up.
“We’re not sitting on our hands when it comes to production, but that production is eclipsed by a huge and growing global marketplace for oil.”
In fact, according to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. now produces 9.1 million barrels of oil every day, making it the third largest oil producer in the world. That represents about 11% of the world’s production. The problem is we consume 22%.
Reality, as some of my friends say, is a bitch. And the reality is that poking more holes in American ground or offshore and extracting more oil will not result in lower gas prices, no matter how many times Colonel Billy says it at local gas stations.
Finally, I do have a problem with something I read in Wally Kennedy’s piece:
Long, who was accompanied by five members of his staff, held a news conference in the convenience store after pumping gasoline into a half-dozen or so vehicles.
Now, a press conference, to my knowledge, involves the press. If press were present, were any questions asked? And if questions were asked, what were the questions? It seems to me that given the current political debate over Newt Gingrich’s correctly labeling as “radical” the Republican plan to kill Medicare—a plan Colonel Ozark Billy voted for—then why were no questions asked about that?
Related to the phony Billy Long gas-pumping stunt, I watched a really, truly, honest-go-goodness example of counterfeit journalism in a report presented by Morgan Schutters on local outlets KSN and KODE TV.
If you can believe it, the head of the Jasper County Republican Party, John Putnam, just happen to be at the Carthage gas station and just happened to have his gas pumped by Ozark Billy. Putnam was identified only as a “Carthage Republican,” as if his job as GOP honcho for the county was irrelevant.
I almost bothered to provide a transcript of the report, especially the end, but I just couldn’t bear to do it. (You can see it and the video here.) It is shameful, but, unfortunately, typical of local “news” reporting. And it is a perfect example of why local politicians pull these dishonest stunts. They can get away with it.
Fortunately, in this case our two largest local newspapers, the Joplin Globe and The Springfield News-Leader, challenged Long’s contentions and presented relatively balanced reports.