21 August, 2009

Adventures in Astroturfing

It's not really been a good week on the astroturfing for the oil industry front. First there was that leaked memo that rather ripped the fig leaf off. Now there's this:

At a “grassroots” rally organized by the American Petroleum Institute in Houston on Tuesday, activists bearing American flags were turned away. Oil company employees were bused in to the “Energy Citizens” gathering to hear billionaire Drayton McLane Jr. attack President Barack Obama’s clean energy agenda as an economy-destroying energy tax. However, grassroots tea-party activists told Public Citizen Texas that they and their American flags were refused entry to the company picnic:

They said, “We won’t let you have an American flag either.” They said they won’t let you have this, and then the guy touched this, the American flag.

Considering what happened when Obama didn't wear a flag pin, I would expect outrage, hysteria, and accusations that the oil companies are America-hating Marxist pigs. Something tells me this won't be the case. I can't imagine why.

The oil companies aren't the only ones busing in employees for a little astroturfing fun. Looks like one of the health care companies that promised they'd behave themselves and help Obama reform their industry have been making their employees play footsie with the Teabaggers:

The health insurance cartel has shown that it is willing to shell out tens of millions of dollars and fight to the death to stop meaningful health care reform. One giant of the industry, United Health Group, is going so far as to actually encourage their own employees to educate themselves in anti-reform talking points, and attend tea parties held by a religious extremist. From TPM:

Last week, UnitedHealth Group--the second largest health insurance company in the country--sent out a letter to its employees urging them to call UHG's United for Health Reform Advocacy Hotline to speak with an advocacy specialist about health care reform. The advocacy specialist, according to the letter, is there to help UHG employees write personalized messages to elected officials, and to arm them with talking points to use at local events in order to better oppose the public health insurance option.

However, a source who's insured by UHG--and who also obtained the letter--called the hotline on Tuesday and says the company directed him to an events list hosted by the right wing America's Independent Party, and suggested he attend an anti-health care reform tea party sponsored by religious fundamentalist Dave Daubenmire, scheduled for today outside the office of Blue Dog Rep. Zack Space (D-OH). Read on...

Isn't that special?

All of this has inspired me to come up with a new slogan: "Don't Trust 'Em. Trust-Bust 'Em." As long as I don't print it on an American flag, perhaps I can sneak it in to an astroturf rally.

The takeaway lesson: if pols fall for this charade, it's because they want to. There's no way to honestly believe these protests are genuine grassroots movements. Not with that artifical aroma wafting from that supposed sod.

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