Exxonmobil Is Tacky
by Matt Stoller, Mon Feb 12, 2007 at 12:26:37 PM EST
I was just on a conference call with Ken Cohen, VP of public policy of ExxonMobil, who has apparently been reaching out to bloggers. The company is having trouble with PR, surprise surprise, and are reaching out to progressive and environmental bloggers to explain their new stance on climate change. They think it's happening and that we need to address it. That's good, I suppose.
I have a hard time taking ExxonMobil in good faith considering that company's legacy of funding junk science and Republicans who don't believe in global warming. I asked Ken whether ExxonMobil would try to convince Republicans they support that global warming is real, and he said yes, ExxonMobil sends them materials. I also asked if ExxonMobil would fund a PR campaign to redress the harms of junk science, and he basically wouldn't concede they had ever funded junk science. It's all just a 'PR problem'. Cohen also pointed out that Exxon funds lots of science on sustainable energy. Ok, fine. It's amazing how in the tank these corporate stooges are. Cohen at one point called AEI a think tank, and said that it isn't a lobbying shop. That would be adorable if New York wasn't going to be underwater in fifty years.
The politics of ExxonMobil are interesting, though expected. Cohen is not only the VP of Public Affairs, but the head of ExxonMobil's PAC, and the head of the ExxonMobil Foundation that distributes charitable grants. That's a lot of hats for a PR guy. I basically let him have it. I told him that I think the only reason he's reaching out to progressive bloggers is because the Democrats control Congress and he's trying to ward off an excess profits tax. Until Exxon acknowledges error and funds a PR campaign that suggests that gravity of the global climate situation, I told him I would strongly support such a tax because ExxonMobil clearly just won't engage in ethical corporate behavior. I actually own some ExxonMobil stock, which makes me an idiot I suppose.
Cohen explained at one point in the discussion that ExxonMobil supports Republicans because ExxonMobil is a business and he can't find pro-business Democrats. I frankly don't care and am glad Democrats don't get oil money; it would be better if he actually convinced Republicans to take global warming seriously. Anyway, I don't think it's weird that the PAC director is the foundation director is the PR director of a company that makes $40 billion a year. It is tacky, though, especially when he tried to tell me about how ExxonMobil believes in traditional Jeffersonian principles. Tacky.
UPDATE: I like this comment, from The Cunctator (who knows what he's talking about): "Exxon Mobil gave up on pursuing alternative energy development about 10-15 years ago. They are directly responsible for so much misinformation and political intransigence on global warming that their executives should be strapped onto an iceberg with a starving polar bear."
I should also mention that Cohen was shocked when I confronted him, and said 'It's like you think this is a moral issue'. What is wrong with these people?
UPDATE II: I'm told it's bad form not to list the other bloggers on the call. Robert Farley from Lawyers, Guns, and Money, Mark Nickolas from Bluegrass Report, Julie Marsh from The Parental is Political and Erik Loomis from Alterdestiny. Erik's write-up is here.