Friday, October 24th, 2014

Trying to be tough on Big Oil

SUMMARY: Clinton says Obama's taken money from oil executives and voted for the energy bill. Obama says Clinton has taken money from oil lobbyists. We find they're mostly right.

The Democratic candidates are trying to look tough against "Big Oil."

Oil companies are a convenient bogeyman because gasoline is averaging $3.42 per gallon in Pennsylvania and the higher fuel costs are driving up the price of food and many other products.

So the candidates are each claiming the other is too cozy with oil companies.

An ad from Sen. Barack Obama criticizes Sen. Hillary Clinton for taking money from lobbyists, including those representing energy companies. The text, set to music, reads: "Politicians defend lobbyists," and "Americans pay the price." Another ad makes a positive case that Obama is challenging oil companies while rejecting money from their lobbyists. "Obama's the only candidate who doesn't take a dime from oil company PACs or lobbyists. And that's change we can believe in," the ad says.

An ad from Clinton criticizes Obama because he "accepted $200,000 from executives and employees of oil companies." It notes the high price of gas and says that Obama "voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill that put $6-billion in the pocket of big oil. Hillary voted against it."

We examined all three ads and explored their most significant claims. We found that:

• Clinton's ad was correct that Obama voted for the 2005 energy bill (she voted against it), but she got the pricetag wrong and she neglected to point out that the bill had billions of dollars in incentives for alternative fuels. We gave her claim a Half True.

• Obama's claim that he is "the only candidate who doesn't take a dime from oil company PACs or lobbyists" is generally accurate but has some caveats. We gave it a Mostly True.

• Obama's ad is correct the Clinton "has taken over $800,000 from lobbyists." We gave that a True.

• Clinton is right that Obama has taken $200,000 from oil company employees. We gave that one a True, while noting that she took even more than that from oil company employees.