Tuesday Chum Report: The Squishy Oil Barrel

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After a week on vacation in two of America’s grandest cathedrals–the Las Vegas strip and the Yosemite high country–it was all too easy to forget about the piddly gimmickry of presidential politics. But no sooner had I landed in New Orleans last night, and checked into the McCain campaign’s hotel, that it all came flooding back. Outside the hotel bar, an unidentified man delivered manila envelopes with the latest example of Barack Obama’s vision for changing politics as usual.*

Envelope contents:
-One (1) squishy, stress-relieving oil barrel inscribed with the words “ExxonMcCain ’08”
-Two (2) campaign buttons with same slogan
-Two (2) bumper stickers with same.
-One (1) ironic press release that declares “Oil Companies First.”

The whole gift package, which can be seen here, was “paid for by the Democratic National Committee and authorized by Obama for America.” The Obama team is trying to highlight the fact that McCain supports a large corporate tax cut and more oil drilling, which would benefit companies like Exxon. Nevermind other inconvenient facts: Obama senior economic adviser Jason Furman says the Obama campaign is also considering a corporate tax cut. Exxon employees have given more money to Obama than McCain. McCain opposed the 2005 Energy Bill, which gave a bunch of new tax subsidies to Exxon; Obama supported the bill. McCain led the Republican charge to fight global warming, an issue that ExxonMobil spent millions to obfuscate.

But that’s how it goes. This ain’t a casino or a granite peak, where at least everything follows certain laws of nature. This is politics in a twisted frenzy. And we got 77 days to go.

* Er, sarcasm.

UPDATE: Of course this does not mean that there is no truth to the charge that McCain and Republican policies tend to be favored by the oil industry. (Obama has closer historical ties to both the ethanol industry, and on some issues, the coal industry.) This from CNN: “[McCain] has taken $1.4 million from oil industry employees in the 2007-2008 election cycle, more than any other politician, according to [the Center for Responsive Politics]. That’s over three times as much as Barack Obama, who ranks just below Hillary Clinton as the highest Democrat recipient. Those numbers are consistent with how employees in the oil sector give overall – nearly three quarters of their money usually goes to Republicans, although they have been leaning a bit more Democratic in the recent election, according to CRP.”