Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Democratic hypocrisy on "big oil"

If I blogged about every instance of political hypocrisy, I wouldn't get anything done (I'm already unproductive enough, thank you very much). However, this story from The Hill about Democratic members of Congress criticizing oil companies while holding substantial amounts of stock in those companies stands out as a glaring example of the "say one thing and do another" attitude in Washington.

Some of the Democrats interviewed for the story said that it was evidence of their virtue, as it showed how they are willing to legislate against their own personal interests. However, the Democrats' actions don't square with their rhetoric.

Consider the statements of Tenn. Rep. Steve Cohen, who has said that oil companies' profits are "unconscionable" and that the companies are "gouging the American public." Or consider N.Y. Rep. Carolyn Maloney's remarks that oil profits are "eye-popping" and that companies are "working hard to prevent gasoline alternatives" and possibly "manipulating capacity."

In each case, the representatives argue that the oil industry's behavior is immoral and perhaps illegal, yet they don't seem to mind benefiting for that exact behavior through the dividends and capital gains on their oil company stocks.

It would be foolish to suggest that members of Congress divest themselves of all stocks. However, one would think that they would stand behind their rhetoric and divest from companies that they really believed were harming American consumers. The fact that so many continue to hold these stocks tells us all we need to know about where they really stand on these issues.