Has the oil industry borrowed the (laughable) tagline of presidential candidate John McCain? As Fox Business reported last Friday:

The American Petroleum Institute took out a full-page ad in USA Today, and other major media were tapped this week to provide “straight talk on earnings.” The earnings that need “straight talk”: ExxonMobil’s $11 billion quarterly profit, and Chevron’s $5.2 billion quarterly profit.

(Note to Big Oil: When Fox doesn’t give your spin favorable coverage, you’ve definitely become the Britney Spears of industries.)

Apparently, the oil companies think that people will ignore their bloated profits once they see a chart showing earnings in “cents per dollar of sales,” claiming:

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In fact, first quarter 2006 earnings for oil and natural gas companies were slightly less than the average for other U.S. industries.

(Cue the violins, cut to a small starving child in Nigeria shedding a tear for the below-average earnings of the world’s fattest fat cats.)

oil company profits

Well, I suppose you can fool some of the people all the time. After all, straight talker McCain denies his cap-and-trade system is “mandatory.” And he claims his gas tax holiday will actually benefit consumers — presumably because oil companies will generously lower their prices rather than, say, simply charging people the pre-holiday price because they know people will pay that price. Yeah, that’s the ticket. And you have millions of dollars waiting for you in the Central Bank of Nigeria …

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An intriguing side note: If you Google “straight talk on earnings,” you’ll see a link to a PDF of the ad, but it has apparently been removed. I wonder if the McCain people complained about the plagiarism — not that the McCain people would ever have to worry about somebody attacking a political candidate for guilt by association. If, however, you click on “View as HTML,” you’ll see the ad is still somewhere in cyberspace.

The truth is out there.

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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