Disconcerting Improvement in T.V. Ads for Second T. Boone Pickens Billionaire Bailout

by William Yeatman on May 22, 2011

in Blog, Features

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I just finished watching the Sunday morning political talkies, and the second biggest ad buy of the day was in support of H.R. 1380, the NAT GAS Act, legislation that was produced by billionaire T. Boone Pickens to benefit the natural gas industry. T. Boone Pickens is a major player in the natural gas industry, so he basically made H.R. 1380 to make himself richer. That’s why this blog has referred to H.R. 1380 variously as the “Pickens Your Pocket Boondoggle Bill,” and the “T. Boone Pickens Earmark Plan.”

The advertisements I saw left me troubled. They indicated that T. Boone Pickens is less tone deaf, and therefore potentially more successful, than the last time he tried to get the Congress to enact legislation that he wrote to further enrich himself.

That was the 2008 “Pickens Plan,” and it was even bigger rip-off than H.R. 1380. The “Pickens Plan” was a simple four-step strategy: (1) subsidize wind produced by T. Boone; (2) subsidize transmission towers to deliver T. Boone’s wind power to cities; (3) force Americans to buy wind power produced by T. Boone; (4) force American motorists to fill their cars with T. Boone’s “leftover” natural gas, the stuff that was displaced by T. Boone’s wind power.

The first time around, T. Boone Pickens thought he had all his bases covered. He’d long been a big GOP donor, so he had that going for him. He relied on Democrats’ reflexive support for unreliable, expensive “green” energy like wind. Just to be sure, he supported their campaign coffers, too. Finally, he had a great public relations hook: “energy independence.” He could show videos of American flag burning in the Middle East and promise to wean the U.S. off Saudi crude with T. Boone’s wind and gas.

It was a great plan…with one fatal flaw. T. Boone Pickens branded his Plan with his face! He actually labeled his self-enrichment scheme the “Pickens Plan.” A lot gets past the American electorate, but they are intrinsically suspicious of legislation written by billionaires. It was too obvious a huge special interest payoff. And so it failed.

The ads I saw this morning were ALL burning flags, and ZERO T. Boone Pickens. This worries me, because it’s a much more effective pitch than, “billionaire T. Boone Pickens deserves even more money.”

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