HIGHTOWER: How to Find Oil in Washington

Oil gazillionaire J. Paul Getty once offered this formula for achieving financial success: "Rise early," he intoned, "work late, strike oil."Darn, why didn't I think of that?Some powerhouse figures in Washington, however, have out-done Getty, finding a financial gusher not by striking oil, but by striking an insider deal that will let their corporate clients strike oil.This deal is centered on Azerbaijan, part of the old Soviet Union. Of course, powerful white guys in suits don't give two hoots about obscure countries with exotic-sounding names unless there's a buck to be made. In this case, Azerbaijan turns-out to be sitting atop an ocean of bucks -- an oil field worth a potential $4 TRILLION.Like flies to honey, Western oil firms are rushing to tap into this pool of crude ... but they've hit a little speedbump in their scheme. In 1992, congress imposed trade restrictions on Azerbaijan because of its mistreatment of its neighbors. So the oil industry has rushed out the heavy guns -- not to get Azerbaijan to shape-up, but to get Washington to lift the trade restrictions. By doing this, not only does it free the oil giants to move-in, but they also can get subsidies from us taxpayers.Who are the heavy guns hired to produce a Washington flip-flop on Azerbaijan trade? Two former national security advisors are on the case: Brent Scowcroft, the former Bush aide, now toiling for Pennzoil; and Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former Carter advisor, now in harness for Amoco. Also, there are three former cabinet officials hustling for the industry: former Defense Secretary Richard Cheney, former Secretary of State James Baker and former Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen. And don't forget John Sununu, Bush's former aide.This is Jim Hightower saying ... For corporations, the secret to financial success is to get the right lobbyist in Washington.Source:"Caspian oil draws crowd of ex-Washington heavy weights" by David B. Ottaway and Dan Morgan. The Washington Post: July 13, 1997.

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