This is completely absurd. I’ve thought for a while now that America today resembles nothing so much as Rome in the 3rd or 4th centry, when they all turned into hedonists just before they were sacked by the Visigoths. Now read this and judge for yourself:
The report says that eight officials in the royalty program accepted gifts from energy companies whose value exceeded limits set by ethics rules — including golf, ski and paintball outings; meals and drinks; and tickets to a Toby Keith concert, a Houston Texans football game and a Colorado Rockies baseball game.
The investigation also concluded that several of the officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.”
The investigation separately found that the program’s manager mixed official and personal business. In sometimes lurid detail, the report also accuses him of having intimate relations with two subordinates, one of whom regularly sold him cocaine.
Oy. This is what happens when you’re addicted to oil. I don’t see any wind companies handing out sex and drugs in exchange for wind farm leases! And Bush/McCain want more oil drilling. Man, if Obama can’t make hay out of this, he should just retire right now.
[This being September 11, though, and both campaigns in an effective cease-fire, that may not happen.]
Update: reading to the end of the article, we finally get to why this is a bad thing, aside from the luridness:
On one occasion, the report said, the royalty-in-kind program allowed a Chevron representative who had won a bid to purchase some of the government’s oil to pay taxpayers a lower amount than his winning offer because he said he had made a mistake in his calculations. A report from Mr. Devaney’s office earlier this year found that the program had frequently allowed companies that purchased the oil and gas to revise their bids downward after they won contracts. It documented 118 such occasions that cost taxpayers about $4.4 million in all.
[The government officials] said they did not view socializing with oil company representatives and taking gifts as inappropriate because they said they needed to be part of the marketing culture in order to market the program’s oil and gas.
Right, because you need to actually market oil and gas. Not that crap sells itself! Here we get to the fundamental problem with the Bush Administration’s worldview: that all the government has to offer is opportunities to whore itself out. We see this in the crafting of the medicare drug benefit, and even in the war in Iraq, where tens of thousands of Iraqis were left unemployed and pissed off for years while we waited for glorious private industry to take off in Iraq.
When we elected two oilmen president, we probably knew that they were going to be generous to the oil companies. But what we didn’t see coming was an entire worldview based on a life lived in the resource extraction business. To Bush and Cheney, the whole government — the whole country — is a resource to be exploited by industry, and they’ve got an 8-year lease. It’s not the 50- or 100-year leases that oilmen are used to, but it’ll do.
Happy “Patriot Day.”