Rarely do we meet those who have made careers selling us lies. Consider the oddball doctors who took tobacco money to deny a link between cigarette smoking and cancer, or the handful of scientists who take oil and coal money to discredit global warming science, or the people who have done both.

Last week, students in Wisconsin and Michigan stepped up to such an opportunity when CFACT Campus, the student arm of a well-known cabal of fossil fuel apologists, hosted climate change denier Willie Soon at several campus events around the country.

Dr. Willie Soon is a Smithsonian Institution astrophysicist paid by Charles Koch, ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute and coal utility Southern Company to write papers dismissing climate change, publish op-eds saying coal pollution won't affect our health, refute the seriousness of ocean acidification, and apparently anything else he can be paid to deny. Dr. Soon has misrepresented himself by repeatedly claiming affiliation with Harvard University and using his credentials as an astrophysicist to make people believe he's a climate expert, and he shows no sign of stopping. Indeed, he told students in Madison, "I am as as qualified as anyone on the planet on this topic."

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Pancakes and Propaganda

I was getting ready to go to work and simultaneously watching “Good Morning, America” when a commercial caught my eye.  As summertime approaches, naturally tourism advertisements are more frequent, beckoning you to travel all over the country and all over the world.  But when I heard the words “gulf coast,” for some reason I paid close attention. 

I had seen this commercial before.  But at that moment my eyes were glued to the screen.  Maybe because I had recently heard news about how the Gulf Coast was having major issues after the BP oil spill in 2010 (surprise, surprise).  I had specifically heard about how sea creatures like shrimp, a major source of income for Gulf fishermen, were showing increased deformities (which sounds very appetizing of course).  Based on this disturbing knowledge, I was interested in what the commercial was trying to convey.

Something was being conveyed, but it wasn't the truth. The screen bounced between people representing different Gulf Coast cities and states.  They were basically glorified cheerleaders for their different hometowns encouraging everyone to come down and experience the fun and food; hopefully seafood is not included.  I also noticed that these were business owners and other prominent people in the cities, not regular locals who may have had a completely different message to the masses. On top of that, the end of the commercial flashed “BP” as its corporate sponsor and well, we all know what’s wrong with that.

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The fossil fuel lobby aggressively uses lobbying and propaganda to block public health protections, manipulate the energy debate, defend their massive government handouts and attack clean energy sources that threaten to displace them.

No tool goes unused: Traditional lobbying, "super PAC" donations, software that floods opinion websites with favorable comments, and a network of well-funded front groups and commentators who launder fossil fuel industry talking points.

Robert Bryce and his employer, The Manhattan Institute, are among the most aggressive of a growing class of talkers underwritten by fossil fuels to write commentary talking down clean energy and playing down the cost and public health problems of fossil fuel dependence.

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Yesterday I sat next to $6 million dollars. I was so close to the money I could smell it.

Yup, that's right. I sat next to nearly $6 million worth of Big Oil and Baron Von Gas bribes and could smell the stink of its corruption. I was at the US House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, whose members collectively have taken $5,972,328.38* from oil and gas companies. Myself and 10 other citizens sat in on a hearing about Keystone XL (again), and when we called foul on their dirty plays, we made them sweat. Let me tell you, Big Oil B.O. is pretty offensive.

Last week when KXL was rejected, Big Oil panicked, and being frightened, it launched an all out offensive to grapple at straws. The American Petroleum Institute's new nauseating "Vote 4 Energy" ad campaign is being pushed in key election states, and API president Jack Gerard has started to use more threatening language against the president. Big Oil's friends in Congress introduced a series of heinous new bills in an effort to keep KXL alive.

One such bill is H.R. 3548 sponsored by Lee Terry of Nebraska. It would direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a permit for the pipeline within 30 days after receiving an application. Yesterday it was its hearing.

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