House hearing addresses missing oil and gas royalties

The steamiest soap opera in D.C. continues this week with a House hearing on $1 billion in uncollected oil and gas royalties. A cast of star-crossed witnesses testified to the Natural Resources Committee about the forbidden love between the Minerals Management Service and Big Oil. Handsome leading man Bobby Maxwell, an auditor-turned-whistleblower, said he was told “not to bother the oil companies.” Supporting actor and ex-auditor Kevin Gambrell said he’d been blocked from collecting royalties owed to Native American tribes. But dashing U.S. Interior Assistant Secretary C. Stephen Allred rose to his employer’s defense, saying the feds are collecting fees properly — and have formed a panel to review the process. “At best, [MMS’] performance might be described as slipshod, but some argue it is something more sinister,” said committee chair Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.). “It does appear we’re getting ripped off.” At which point he ripped off his shirt, only to reveal — sorry, fans, tune in tomorrow.