Left Justified: Is big oil buying our congressman?

Does U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-16) take oil money? Does he even need to take oil money? An e-mail forwarded to me asked me to sign a letter asking the Donald to support a clean energy future and refuse campaign contributions from the big oil companies.

I don’t usually read forwarded political junk e-mail, because I get so much that either rehashes what was on the Daily Show (my favorite source of information) or so wacko that even I have difficulty believing it (i.e., George W. Bush planted dynamite in the World Trade Towers to make sure they came down Sept. 11).

Apparently, for the last 10 years, big oil (i.e., Exxon, Standard, Sunoco, etc.) has given more than $190 million to members of Congress. At least according to , one of the most active liberal Web sites. And since 75 percent ($142,635,314!) of those donations have gone to Republicans, I was wondering whether Uncle Don, our representative to the Congress of the United States for the last 115 years, got any of that largess?

Those donations have guaranteed an energy policy that serves the oil kingdom more than public interest. Until our reprehensatives stop taking oil money, it’s going to be hard to make progress on global warming and clean energy alternatives. Real hard.

Clean energy experts and advocates agree, the obstacles to energy independence are mostly political. As Al Gore says in his great movie An Inconvenient Truth, “political will is a renewable resource” and we need some Rockford “will” to get a new political outlook in Washington.

We must tell our representative, Donald Manzullo, that we are ready to end oil addiction, if he is ready to kick his addiction to oil money! Or, maybe he should ask for more money, then share it with the constituents of his district! Remember, he represents everyone from Woodstock to Galena, and in between. Donald said he would only run for 12 terms, as a self-imposed term limit. But he is in such a safe Republican district (they could run a “yellow dog” and win) that the Donald decided to sacrifice himself and remain our representative forever.

Gas prices are off the charts, the situation in the Middle East is unstable, scientists are warning that global warming is at a tipping point, and our representative is making public service announcements about the confusing Social Security prescription plan that he voted for (is that legal just before an election?).

So last month, MoveOn members (it is run democratically) decided that “clean, sustainable energy” should be one of their key goals. They say it’s time for an “oil-free Congress.”

Wednesday, June 28—right before the Fourth of July, when gas prices will be front and center as folks plan for the long weekend, they’re going to be holding gas station rallies across the country to tell Congress it’s time to say no to big oil’s money and become oil-free. They have one planned at 5 p.m. at the Flying J Truck Stop (Shell), Exit 1 off I-90 in South Beloit. I cannot vouch for it, but if anyone is available to drive by, let me know how many were there.

With former oilmen George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the White House, and Republican majorities in Congress, the industry has enjoyed good times indeed, and will continue to reap huge profits, unless our representatives begin to represent the people.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the June 28-July 4, 2006, issue

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