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How Gore reinvented greed

Vice President Al Gore is using all his influence with President Clinton to persuade him to tap into the nation’s emergency oil stockpile.

He argues that this is the right thing to do to combat decade-high oil prices.

“Today, there are families … all across the country who are wondering how they are going to be able to pay for heat this winter,” Gore said. “We have to change that.”

Gore wants to put on the market some of the nearly 600 million barrels of crude oil known as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

To truly understand how corrupt Gore’s pandering on this issue is, you need a little history.

In 1922, Edward L. Doheny and Harry Sinclair bribed Albert Fall, the secretary of the interior in the Warren G. Harding administration, for secret leases to drill on two oil-rich fields held by the U.S. Navy as emergency reserves in the event of war or serious disruption of supplies. One of those fields was called Elk Hills in Bakersfield, Calif. The other, just outside of Caspar, Wyo., was called Teapot Dome.

Sound familiar? Of course. When the bribes were discovered, the ensuing Teapot Dome scandal forced the resignations of Fall, who later went to prison, and Edward Denby, the secretary of the Navy.

In 1973, during the gasoline crisis, President Richard Nixon tried to lease Elk Hills to increase domestic oil production. Congress stopped the deal.

In 1984, 1986 and 1987, the Reagan administration proposed selling Elk Hills for $1.5 billion to reduce the deficit. Congress, again, blocked the efforts.

Now, hold onto your hats. In 1996, as part of Gore’s “reinventing government” package, he recommended that Elk Hills be sold. Clinton approved the plan. The deal was included in the 1996 defense authorization bill that Congress approved.

Guess who wound up buying Elk Hills for $3.65 billion. You guessed it. Occidental Petroleum, which tripled its U.S. oil and natural gas reserves in the process.

Who is Occidental? This is a company that has provided major campaign funds for Gore and the Democratic Party. But it is much more than that.

The founder of Occidental is Armand Hammer who had, in his own words, Albert Gore Sr., “in his back pocket.” When the current vice president’s father left the U.S. Senate in 1970, Hammer, a primary sponsor of the Communist Party USA and a personal friend of V.I. Lenin and Josef Stalin, provided him with a $500,000-a-year job and a seat on Occidental’s board. But Gore had been on Hammer’s payroll throughout most of his political career.

When the younger Gore was elected to Congress, the sweetheart deals with Hammer and Occidental continued. Gore receives $20,000 a year from Occidental as payoff for mineral rights on his farm. The zinc mine on his land, by the way, makes him one of the biggest polluters in the state.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Occidental gave $50,000 to the Clinton-Gore re-election effort in response to one of Gore’s “no-controlling-legal-authority” phone calls from his office in the White House. Occidental has given more than $470,000 in soft money to various Democratic committees and causes since 1992.

Conflict of interest? I think that term would be the understatement of the century with regard to Gore’s political posturing about greed and avarice on the part of oil companies. He owes his political patronage to an oil company with one of the shadiest histories — one that built its fortune on bribery, including the bribery of Gore and his father before him.

There’s even more to this story than I can relate here. I’ve recounted some of the details in previous columns. (See links below.) Another excellent summary is provided by the Center for Public Integrity.

I didn’t think it was possible America could ever elect a president more corrupt, more tainted, more compromised and more self-serving than Bill Clinton. Yet, judging from the polls, it is still entirely possible that could happen in November. That’s right, I’m beginning to think that Al Gore is even more of a walking scandal, more of a double-dealing hypocrite and more of a danger to the future of America than his predecessor.

Gore camouflages his thievery and personal privilege better than any politician I have ever seen. And I had thought I’d seen the once-in-a-lifetime master in Clinton.

Now, Gore, once again, has a compassionate plan to help you and me by selling off the nation’s strategic oil reserves. Personally, I have no problem with the federal government getting out of the oil business altogether. But I sure don’t want to see Gore and his sponsors benefiting from the deal. If history is any indicator, you can rest assured there’s a payoff here.

Earlier columns on this subject:

Gore sensitive about Hammer connection

The sins of the father

The Real Al Gore Sr.

Gore fights corruption

Al Gore — Mr. Compassion