Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Oil Man Cometh

Really good op-ed in today's NYTimes;
There he is, the sound of money in a wizened Texas drawl, the tired realist looking a bit like the John Huston character from “Chinatown” as he warns in national television ads that we should just listen here and do as he says.

And what the 80-year-old T. Boone Pickens says, in a $58 million campaign, is that we can’t drill our way to lower gas prices. By implication, anybody who tells you otherwise — including the fellow Texan he helped put in the White House — is a fraud.

This is a political parable for the ages: the guy who was behind one of the knockout punches to John Kerry four years ago is now doing Democrats the biggest favor of the election by calling Republicans on their phony energy campaign.

“Totally misleading” is the way Pickens describes Republican attempts to convince the public that if we just opened up all these forbidden areas to oil drilling then gas prices would fall. He’s not against new drilling, but he is honest enough to say it wouldn’t do anything.

Republicans are furious at their longtime benefactor. Senator John McCain is currently running an ad in which he directly blames Barack Obama for $4-a-gallon gas at the pump — as bogus a claim as anything yet made in 2008.

Then along comes Pickens, Texas oilman and billionaire corporate raider, overwhelming the McCain attack with a saturation message that has the added value of being true, as Henry Kissinger once said about another matter.

Pickens was a geologist before he found a deep pool of money, so when he says “the geology just isn’t there” to reduce oil imports through new drilling in offshore areas, he has some cred.

But, more importantly, Pickens is betting $10 billion in constructing what he says will be the world’s largest wind farm in the gusts of West Texas. If the mighty winds of the American midsection were harnessed, it could free up plentiful natural gas for vehicles — a relatively quick step away from foreign oil.

Would it enrich him further? Yes. But perhaps it’s not about money. In “Chinatown,” the old man played by Huston was asked by Detective Jake Gittes what more he could possibly buy at his age.

“The future, Mr. Gittes. The future.”
I watched old dood give some of his testimony in congress and I found it shockingly convincing.