Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sean Hannity Defends Oil Companies.

For the last two days on Sean Hannity’s radio program, he has relentlessly defended oil companies. Despite the massive profits oil companies have been seeing, Hannity has defended them lock-stop for the last two days. What is the real culprit to the high cost of gas in Hannity’s eyes? You guessed it. Democrats and environmentalists. Big surprise. Or is it?

Strangely, Hannity has even been lambasting Republicans on this issue, for “not sticking to principal”, and for “sounding like little Democrats”. Easy for “Mister Principal” to say, as he isn’t looking at a pink slip in November.

But criticizing Republicans for “not sticking to principal” is quite ironic for Hannity. For the last two days he has criticized the high cost of gas on “government taxes” and “environmental extremists” who don’t want new oil refineries built. Strangely, these talking points closely resemble those stated by oil giant Conoco Phillips, who have made the same talking points in their own media relations webpage. These rants tend to be in between commercials advertising how wonderful propane is. Conflict of interest?

Hannity’s explanation is simply without logic. As gas prices have soared, gas taxes have remained fixed, thus as the gas prices increase, the gas companies are paying a smaller percentage in gas taxes in ratio to the price at the pump. This is an institutional incentive for gas companies to raise prices, which could be fixed in a heart beat, simply by changing petrol tax law from a fixed amount to a percentage of the cost at the pump. Additionally, gas companies have no reason to build more refineries, as doing so would cost them money to increase supply, a formula for oil companies to invest in losing money. And while Hannity bloviates about massive gas taxes, he fails to mention the billions in tax-payer dollars that was given to the oil giants as a gift in last year’s energy bill.

Hannity has even exclaimed the “outrageous” proposal by Maryland Senator Chuck Schumer to break up some of the oil giants, contradicting his supposed support for “free market competition”. Instead of placing the blame on oil giants like Exxon-Mobil for the high cost of gas, he has put the blame of Senator Schumer, for reasons only known to Hannity himself.

Additionally, Hannity has claimed that petrol taxes “don’t produce anything”, despite that gas taxes are the primary revenue resource funding the nation’s highways, and additionally mass transit infrastructure. Considering that the gas companies must have roads for their consumers to drive on, petrol taxes are simply nothing more than a massive subsidy to the oil giants.

Further parroting Conoco Phillips’ talking points, Hannity has said that the profits per dollar on gasoline are far behind that in many US industries, including food and beverages. What Hannity, and Conoco Phillips fail to point out, is that Americans do not have a need to purchase 20-50 gallons of soda pop on a weekly basis. But if gas companies make so little profit off a gallon of gas, as Hannity claims, then it makes one ponder why has gas companies’ profits skyrocketed at the same time that prices has risen at the pump? You could ask Hannity for the answer, but he would likely be parroting oil industry PR flacks. The truth is everyone knows the answer, as it couldn’t be clearer.


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