The influence of oil company donations

THE INFLUENCE OF OIL COMPANY DONATIONS As part of the Republican efforts to blame the White House for the BP oil spill disaster, former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) appeared on Fox News yesterday to share a conspiracy theory of sorts.

“I don’t know why the question isn’t asked by the mainstream media and by others if there is any connection with the contributions made to President Obama and his administration, and the support by the oil companies to the administration,” Palin said, “If there is any connection there to President Obama taking so dog-gone long to get in there and dive in there and grasp the complexity and the potential tragedy that we are seeing here in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Let’s just pause a moment to appreciate the humor in the dimwitted Fox News personality accusing anyone of failing to “grasp the complexity” of anything.

Soon after, “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the accusation. “I’m almost sure that the oil companies don’t consider the Obama administration a huge ally,” Gibbs noted, adding that Palin should probably “get slightly more informed as to what’s going on.”

But in case anyone’s inclined to take the substance (I use the word loosely) of Palin’s nonsense seriously, the Wall Street Journal had a worthwhile report.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Republicans receive far more campaign money from the oil and gas industry than do Democrats.

So far in 2010, the oil and gas industries have contributed $12.8 million to all candidates, with 71% of that money going to Republicans. During the 2008 election cycle, 77% of the industry’s $35.6 million in contributions went to Republicans, and in the 2008 presidential contest, Republican candidate Sen. John McCain received more than twice as much money from the oil and gas industries as Obama: McCain collected $2.4 million; Obama, $898,000.

This is a decades-long trend, the center says: Since 1990, oil and gas companies have donated $238.7 million to candidates and parties, with 75% of the money going to Republicans.

To borrow Palin’s phrase, does she wonder if there’s any connection between the contributions made to Republican candidates and the Republican Party’s support for the oil companies. “I don’t know why the question isn’t asked by the mainstream media and by others.”

What’s more, as Ben Armbruster noted, even conservatives seem to think Palin is on the wrong track with this one. Ed Morrissey warned Republicans not to “overplay their hand on this issue.”