Oil companies made record profits, and all we got was this moral outrage

Pity the poor oil firms: The five largest are expected to reap a record $28 billion in collective earnings this quarter, and all signs point to a lucrative six months to come, but they can’t brag about it — at least not publicly. If they did, people might ask inconvenient questions, like: Why are we making you rich by paying so much for gasoline right now? Or: Why are we facing freezing our heinies off this winter because we’ll have to choose between eating and heating our homes? Or even: Why is an industry at the peak of profitability getting gajillions in handouts from Congress? To avoid this kind of unpleasantness, firms may accentuate the negative in their upcoming financial statements, loading up on special charges like hurricane-related repairs and possible marketing losses, although higher prices for oil and gas are expected to more than make up for the costs of fixing damaged Gulf Coast oil and natural-gas infrastructure.