HIGHTOWER: I Go POGO

Walt Kelley's great comic-strip character, Pogo the possum, ran for president around 1960, and many of us iconoclasts were proud to wear his campaign button declaring: I GO POGO.

Well, I go POGO again, but this time its the Project On Government Oversight that I'm backing. This terrific, public-interest watchdog is in the fight of its life against Big Oil and two of Big Oil's snarling guard dogs in congress, Republicans Don Young and Barbara Cubin. Young, from Alaska, chairs the powerful house resources committee, while Cubin, from Wyoming, chairs its energy subcommittee. Both have pocketed beaucoup bucks from the oil giants, and both have loyally sided with the industry to get whatever it wants.

One thing Big Oil dearly wants is for POGO to go away. Working with whistleblowers inside the industry and government, the Project has unveiled a massive, deliberate scheme through which oil companies cheat on us taxpayers. The industry is allowed to pump publicly-owned oil from beneath state and federal public lands, for which it must pay us a royalty. But for years, it has been grossly underpaying on these royalties. POGO and the states have successfully sued the likes of Shell and Exxon/Mobil to force repayment of nearly half-a-billion dollars owed to us, and there are more legal actions underway against these scoundrels.

You might think that congress naturally would want to go after the cheats, but, no, Young and Cubin have been frothing at the mouth and going after POGO! Young and Cubin have launched a vendetta, demanding all of POGO's phone records, as well as those of its executive director, going back as far as seven years—records that would reveal to the oil companies the names of courageous whistleblowers who've been working with POGO.

This is Jim Hightower saying . . . Let's GO POGO! To find out how to help stop this outrageous abuse of congressional power, contact POGO: 202-347-1122, or check their web site: www.pogo.org.

Jim Hightower's lastest book, If the Gods Had Meant Us to Tovte They Would Have Given Us Candidates, is available in stores everywhere.

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