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When Crony Capitalists Attack Special Interests (Updated)

4:18 PM, Dec 8, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Crony capitalist extraordinaire T. Boone Pickens has an op-ed in Politico today pressing the case, once again, for the NATGAS Act, which is now pending before Congress. The bill itself would offer a slew of subsidies for those companies producing natural gas, converting trucks and cars to natural gas, and developing natural gas fueling stations throughout the country. And it just so happens that Pickens happens to own companies engaged in those very businesses, and passage of the NATGAS Act would bring a windfall of at least $100 million and likely much, much more.

t. boone pickens

One striking thing about Pickens’s piece in Politico though is the Obama-like shamelessness of his attacks on “special interests.” Of course President Obama is fond of attacking special interests, but it often seems like the only distinction between a legitimate, regular interest and a “special” interest is how much money that interest is putting behind the Obama reelection campaign. Unions, for example, give to Democrats, so they are not a special interest. Clean energy companies, like Solyndra, that rely entirely on federal loans and subsidies for their survival? Not a special interest—they support the president and they love the environment. General Electric, which pays no income taxes? Just ask Jeffrey Immelt, GE CEO and chairman of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness…not a special interest.

So it is without even the slightest sense of irony that Pickens writes,

Special interests argue that governments shouldn’t pick transportation fuel winner and losers. But they ignore the fact that the failure to pick winners picks one – and it is OPEC oil and diesel. 

Just to be clear, it’s not special interests that argue government shouldn’t pick winners and losers, it’s conservatives who make that argument. Special interests write op-eds for Politico arguing for legislation that would take money from taxpayers and give it to companies in which they own a major stake. Apparently, special interests also fail to disclose their own conflicts of interest in those op-eds, giving the reader no indication that they may potentially make hundreds of millions of dollars of the legislation they’re lobbying for.

UPDATE: In response to an inquiry from TWS, Politico has amended T, Boone Pickens's byline to reflect the fact that he has a personal financial interest in the legislation he is so shamelessly flogging:

T. Boone Pickens is founder and chairman of BP Capital Management and author of the Pickens Plan, a blueprint for reducing foreign energy use. He is a longtime advocate of natural gas as fuel and his company, Clean Energy Fuels Corp, owns and operates natural gas fueling stations.

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