In the struggle to exploit American angst over high gas prices for political gain, the Democrats get points for timing and understanding the power of viral marketing. On the same day Exxon reported near record-breaking profits of $10.7 billion, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched the website roilwedding.com, which features a mock royal wedding invitation that ties Republicans to the oil industry.
The R-Oil wedding invitation -- which includes an image of House Speaker John Boehner in a "royal" gown -- is juvenile. But that doesn't make it any less effective. Sophomoric antics almost always win out over wonky news conferences and statements.
The invitation reads:
Please join special guest Speaker John Boehner in celebrating the sacred and lasting union between the Republican Party and Big Oil. In lieu of gifts, please send corporate tax breaks at the expense of middle class Americans. We are registered at: Halliburton, BP, Exxon Mobil and more ...The website then directs visitors to view campaign contributions to top Republicans from the oil and gas industry as well as some of their recent votes against repealing oil industry tax breaks. Of course, the site doesn't include the few Democrats who also have benefited from the oil and gas industry's largesse.
Mixed messages from the GOP
Up to now, GOP strategy has been to blame Obama's energy policy, including his moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling, for the run-up in gas prices. And it's been pretty effective -- at least until this week, when Boehner appeared to acquiesce to Democrats and said Congress should "take a look at" repealing tax subsidies for the oil industry.
Never mind that he quickly backpedaled. The White House pounced on Boehner's remarks and called for immediate action. The end-oil-subsidy momentum picked up speed this week as the major companies including BP, ConocoPhillips (COP), Shell (RDS) and Exxon (XOM) began to report first quarter earnings.
Big Oil: Don't hate us because we're minting money
Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry tried -- and failed -- to get out in front of the issue in the days before earnings were released in an effort to soften or at least divert public anger. The American Petroleum Institute issued numerous "explainers" of oil profits -- including an odd oil industry video that uses cupcakes for props to illustrate how ending subsidies is punishing shareholders. Exxon didn't waste any time with videos. Instead, it had company vice president Ken Cohen basically beg Americans to not be too upset with its profits in a Wednesday blog post.
But oil industry, fear not. Those tax incentives and credits aren't going anywhere. The political theatrics will continue and you'll take a beating. But you're not exactly well liked anyway. You've been here before. Remember 2008?
Photo from Roilwedding.com/Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee