Texas Oil Billionaire Jumps on Board With Trump's Proposal to Ban Muslim Immigrants From the U.S.

T. Boone Pickens has become a fervent supporter of fellow billionaire Trump.

T. Boone Pickens
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T. Boone Pickens is a billionaire hedge fund manager and oil tycoon whose long-term financial backing of the Bush family included his recent $100,000 donation to the failed campaign of 2016 presidential hopeful Jeb.

Now, the 87-year-old, who also donated to the campaigns of Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, is emerging as a fervent supporter of fellow billionaire and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, including full embrace of his proposed ban on Muslims.

“I'd cut off the Muslims from coming into the United States until we can vet these people,” said Pickens, speaking Wednesday at the Sky Bridge Alternatives Conference, a yearly confab for hedge fund managers held in Las Vegas. “Cut them off so we can figure out who they are coming in,” he added, in comments that were reported by numerous media outlets.

“We’ve got plenty of people here,” continued Pickens, who is the founder and chairman of BP Capital. “We’ve got a good economy and Muslims coming into the U.S. I don’t see that impacting the economy at all.”

Boone’s statements come amid mounting concerns about Trump’s overtly racist platform, including his proposals to kill the family members of ISIL, deport millions of immigrants and refugees and “force” Mexico to build a wall. Trump has issued outrageous staments calling Mexicans rapists and repeatedly incited violence against protesters at his rallies.

Pickens previously had reservations about Trump, authoring a blog post last year which stated, “We’ve turned our presidential selection process into a reality TV show. Hell, it’s worse than reality TV. Why? Because this reality TV show is about selecting the leader of the Free World.”

Back in 2008, the Republican mega-donor received widespread accolades for his announcement of the “Pickens Plan,” which he claims is an environmentally friendly energy scheme to reduce American dependency on foreign oil. As Scott Thill wrote, the proposal resembled a Ponzi scheme, given Pickens’ own personal interest in natural gas extraction, which he falsely trumpets as clean energy.

More recently, Pickens came out swinging against Hillary Clinton’s proposals for halting climate change, stating, “You get rid of fossil fuels, and you’ll stop the world.”

A landmark study published last year in the scholarly journal Nature found that in order to stave off climate crisis, the vast majority of fossil fuels must remain in the ground.

As he nears the age of 90, Pickens likely won’t live to see the long-term consequences of his call for fossil fuel extraction or even his support for Trump. He acknowledged this in remarks at the Las Vegas conference, saying of a potential Trump presidency: “I’m ready to take a chance on it.” He added, “And just in case it’s a mistake, [I’ll] be gone.”

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Sarah Lazare was a former staff writer for AlterNet and Common Dreams. She coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.