Your Influence Counts ... Use It! The SPOTLIGHT by Liberty Lobby

Reprinted from, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive

Congress to Reward Oil Interests

A Senate bill winding its way through the 107th Congress would provide substantial financial benefits to oil and gas interests that contributed $29 million, mostly to Republicans, during the 2000 elections.

The Department of Energy authorization bill provides subsidies and tax-relief provisions worth billions to oil and gas interests. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska), will come before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which he is chairman.

Benefits include reduced royalties that companies pay for drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico, a tax credit for marginally productive wells and subsidies when exploration ventures fail.

One of the tax relief provisions -- elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax -- could save companies hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years.

The legislation would reward one of the Republicans' staunchest corporate supporters. Of the $29 million in contributions by the oil and gas industries during the 2000 election cycle, 78 percent, or about $23 million, went to Republican candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Other industries gave more but their contributions were more evenly split. For example, the business services industry gave almost evenly to Democrats and Republicans to insure access whatever the election results.

While 41 Senate Republicans and 36 Democrats received donations from the oil and gas industry, the GOP benefited far more. The average Republican recipient collected $36,000 while the average Democrat received $14,000, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Some major beneficiaries of the oil and gas largess are two Republicans on the Energy Committee: Sens. Conrad Burns (Mont.) and Craig Thomas (Wyo.), who received $53,000 and $48,000 respectively from donors connected to the industry in the last election cycle.

Murkowski received $35,000 in political action committee (PAC) contributions, which was five times more than he received from any other industry.

In comparison, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), ranking member of the Health Education and Labor Committee, received $127,000 in PAC funds from organized labor, which is five times what he received from oil and gas interests. Thus, it's likely that, had the Democrats won control of the Senate, the first bill out of his committee would have benefited labor and cost corporations heavily.

Bush, whose family is itself oil-rich, named Ken Lay, former head of Enron, one of the nation's largest power marketers, as a top energy adviser. Former Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), who Bush named secretary of energy, received more campaign contributions from the energy industry than any other legislator since 1993 -- about $500,000.

Gas prices are at record highs and Americans are suffering enough. Contact your two senators and tell them to reject this taxpayer-funded payout to the energy industry.


The left wing of Congress continues its one-foot-in-the-door approach to gun-control laws on the theory that a little bit of firearms legislation is like being a little bit pregnant.

That's why the proposal to limit your purchases of handguns to one per month has been introduced again by Democratic Reps. Robert Wexler (Fla), James Moran (Va.) and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), all left-wing extremists.

Their bill has the usual exemptions for licensed importers, manufacturers and dealers. And most Americans are not inconvenienced by being able to buy only one handgun a month. But any gun law is a bad law under the Constitution.

Interestingly, the bill claims a constitutional right for Congress to pass gun laws. Although absurd, it is a plus when lawmakers consider the Constitution.

"Congress has the power, under the interstate commerce clause and other provisions of the Constitution, to ensure, by enactment of this section, that criminals ... do not obtain firearms," the bill reads.

Nice try, but any dropout from remedial law school would find their constitutional reasoning fails. Of course, the "other provisions" are not identified. The specific Second Amendment admonition that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" prohibits such actions irrespective of the commerce clause.

Finally, the tiresome argument that the parenthetical phrase about the "militia" meaning that only soldiers and cops were to own guns can only be made by two types of people: the ignorant and the liars -- including federal court judges.

Law students are taught -- and taught and taught and taught -- that judges construing the Constitution are supposed to determine the "intent" of the authors. The record is extensive and conclusive that the Founding Fathers intended that every "man" should have an unlimited right to own guns. Since, until the age of Newspeak, a reference to the male gender as used was all-inclusive, the right of women to carry a gun is also absolute.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison -- who authored the Bill of Rights -- and other Founders are lavishly on record in speeches, letters and other writings published in the Federalist Papers as wanting to guarantee that every American could own guns. They were not referring only to shooting Indians and game. All expressed fear that a "tyrannical" federal government would emerge in the event of an "unarmed citizenry."

Congress badly needs to heed their prophetic words. Contact your congressman and tell him to vote against this unconstitutional bill.


President Bush will have to hug a few more Democrats to get his across-the-board cut in federal income tax rates because two Republicans have jumped ship in a Senate that is tied 50-50. They are Sens. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) and James Jeffords (Vt.).

Democrats have countered Bush's plan with smaller "targeted" tax cuts and proposed new spending.

The debate is largely ideological. Democrats want "targeted" tax cuts to control individual behavior and reward indolence -- such as making you drive less and spend more for "single mothers."

Bush wants a rate reduction for all who pay income taxes, even those who pay a lot of taxes. However, Democrats who play "class warfare" politics deliberately overlook the fact that struggling, lower-middle-class families would enjoy complete tax relief.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said Republicans told Bush at a White House meeting on Feb. 15 that he now lacks the votes to pass his plan to cut taxes by $1.6 trillion over 10 years.

"We told him ... right now it would appear there are a number of senators who are undecided and that there are between 47 and 49 that are absolutely committed and we're still working," Domenici said.

Democrats offered the rough outline of a plan to cut taxes by $750 billion while setting aside more of projected surpluses for new spending programs as Congress dreams them up.