Who is Really Calling?

The next time you get a call from someone asking you to support some political or environmental cause or other, I dare you to ask who, exactly, the caller represents. Chances are it will be some organization that you have never heard of but which sounds faintly familiar. The reality will be, though, that the name will be false or, more likely, completely misleading.

Have you ever heard of the Northwest Environmental Coalition? Funded completely by mining and forest corporations. How about Citizens for a Clean Lake Michigan? Funded by chemical manufacturers who pour untold tons of pollution into that very lake. How about the Princeton Dental Resource Center? M&M/Mars candy company.

Think that these are just isolated incidences of corporations lying in order to manipulate you and take your money for causes that you support but they are actually fighting? Think that Congress must, somehow, be capable of putting a stop to such coarse deception? Yeah, sure! Congress tried, in 1995, to enact just such legislation but massive lobbying from many conservative groups, unbelievably led by the so-called Christian Coalition, argued that in some way putting a stop to outright lying infringed on these groups First Amendment rights to free speech.

The Nov./DEC issue of Mother Jones magazine exposes one of the grosser players in the groups who support the destruction of the environment and the debasement of our government by creating false fronts and asking outright disingenuous questions.

Bonner & Associates, founded by Jack Bonner, former aide to the late Republican Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania, has been instrumental in creating opinions in the uninformed people his firm contacts that are the exact opposite as reality.

Bonner & Associate's work for Western Fuels is an example of their style of performances. First, they financed (along with German Coal Mining Trade Association, Exxon, Shell and Arco) two scientists who, amazingly enough, discovered that massive emissions of carbon dioxide are actually very good for the planet and all that live on it. This work, even though it contradicts the research of over 2600 other scientists whose work has shown that carbon dioxide causes global warming, is used in phone scripts and letter writing campaigns to "prove" that CO2 is "benign gas that is good for forests, plant life and agriculture". In July, they even printed an ad in the Des Moines Register, under the heading "Open Letter to the Congress, President Clinton and Vice-President Gore", that the Rio treaty (another environmental treaty that Western Fuels hates) would result in families being "forced to pay too much for the basic necessity of electricity" and that "many scientists cannot agree that global warming is a real and significant problem". (That must be why the planet Venus is such a Eden of green plant life.)

Interestingly enough, Bonner & Associates doesn't even pretend to believe what they say. When the electric utilities who oppose energy deregulation contracted with them, suddenly carbon dioxide "hurts the environment - especially the air we breathe". While attacking the Rio treaty's "unfair" opposition to the burning of coal, which is one of Western Fuel's products, when later working for the utilities they explain how harmful the use of coal is to the environment.

When a spokesman for Western Fuels was questioned as to why they continued to do business with a PR firm that is both supporting and challenging Western Fuel's information about the effect of carbon dioxide's greenhouse effects, his reply was, "Bonner basically does what their client is telling them to do. If you dig hard enough, you'll find that I'm also a consultant for the Center for Energy and Economic Development, which is sponsored by coal interests."

Wow, that revelation just floored me, as I'm sure it did you. An admission that nobody believes what they're saying or even openly admitting who they are but are still trying to get you to support their "positions"?!? Why, it's enough to make you believe that the Republican Revolution is over and they won, hands down!

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Copyright 10/24/97