As we close up a week wherein Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, on the stump and in a TV ad accused rival Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., of being "in the pocket of big oil," and doing the industry's bidding -- not to mention a week during which the Democratic National Committee launched an Exxon-McCain '08 website to drive home this Democratic talking point -- the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics points out that the issue is a bit more complicated than it first would appear.
McCain has received three times more money from the oil industry in general -- $1.3 million for McCain compared to approximately $394,000 for Obama. But that said, Obama has received more campaign cash than McCain has from the employees of some of the biggest oil companies -- Exxon, Chevron and BP.
This might seem to complicate Obama's continual use of Exxon-Mobil on the stump.
In Youngstown, Ohio, this week Obama said that McCain is "offering $4 billion more in tax breaks to the biggest oil companies in America -- including $1.2 billion to Exxon-Mobil...a company that, last quarter, made the same amount of money in 30 seconds that a typical Ohio worker makes in a year."
In Lansing, Michigan, Obama said Exxon-Mobil "is the company that, last quarter, made $1,500 every second. That’s more than $300,000 in the time it takes you to fill up a tank with gas that’s costing you more than $4-a-gallon. And Senator McCain not only wants them to keep every dime of that money, he wants to give them more. So make no mistake – the oil companies have placed their bet on Senator McCain."
But based on data downloaded electronically from the Federal Election Commission on July 29, 2008, reports CRP: "Through June, Exxon employees have given Obama $42,100 to McCain's $35,166. Chevron favors Obama $35,157 to $28,500, and Obama edges out McCain with BP $16,046 vs. $11,500."
McCain himself has tried to push back against the Obama charge, telling votes at a town hall in Lima, Ohio, today, that he "spoke up against the Administration and Congress and Senator Obama when they gave us an energy bill with more giveaways to Big Oil and really no solution to our energy problems," and Obama did not.
Discussing the 2005 energy bill, which passed the Senate overwhelmingly, McCain said "I think Senator Obama might be a little bit confused. Yesterday, he accused me of having President Bush's policies on energy. That's odd because he voted for the President's energy bill and I voted against it. I voted against it, had $2.8 billion in corporate welfare to Big Oil companies, and they're already making record profits, as you know. Senator Obama voted for that bill and its Big Oil giveaways. I know he hasn't been in the Senate that long, but even in the real world, voting for something means you support it and voting against something means you oppose it."
The Obama campaign disputes that the bill was "the president's" energy bill, and in Lansing told voters that McCain voted "against an energy bill that – while far from perfect – represented the largest investment in renewable sources of energy in the history of this country."