James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Crude, sex & drugs: “MMS chicks” gone wild

Posted by James McPherson on September 11, 2008

It sounds like a show that might be titled “Girls Gone Wild: Oil, Drugs and Money.” Playboy is undoubtedly already trying to contact women involved for one of its “theme issues,” such as its earlier renditions of “Women of Wal-Mart” and “Women of Enron.”

And now that the title, the first line, and some of the tags below will undoubtedly draw more visitors to this site than anything else I’ve written (after all, by far the biggest draw up until now has been the tag “Sarah Palin bikini,” while tags associated with the world’s most famous journalist attract almost no one), let me ask this: After revelations of the past couple of days, does anyone still believe that the Bush administration–or the McCain/Palin ticket that wants to repeat or continue most of its policies–is remotely capable of handling U.S. energy policy or tax policy?

For those who missed it because they were caught up in stories about pigs with lipstick or Sarah Palin’s repeated lies about the “bridge to nowhere” and an Alaska oil pipeline, the story is that the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service has been caught up in an ethics scandal that includes “allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct. ” (New York Times) Agency employees, some of whom apparently were referred to as “MMS chicks,” are accused of accepting bribes from and having sex with oil company executives.

For the record, the MMS collects about $10 billion annually–”one of the government’s largest sources of revenue other than taxes,” but has been “riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch,” notes the New York Times. The agency apparently has been mismanaging the collection of fees from oil companies and writing faulty contracts for YEARS . Those “mistakes” have cost U.S. taxpayers (and awarded the companies) billions of dollars. The MMS defense apparently will be that they got stoned and missed it.

The only good news from the mess is that it may prompt Congress to hold off on what seemed to be an inevitable rush toward increased offshore drilling.

8 Responses to “Crude, sex & drugs: “MMS chicks” gone wild”

  1. Mike Ingram said

    Jim, it strikes me that Palin has a record of taking on ethical corruption in her own party and state government. To your question ‘does anyone believe that McCain/Palin is capable of handling energy/tax policy’, I answer ‘yes.’

    The thesis of your post seems to be “some Interior folks acted badly, on Bush’s watch, therefore Republicans cannot lead well here.” I cannot accept your reasoning here. The link provide describes some government officials acting badly, and there is not a defense of their behaviors and actions. I argue that a Vice Prez Palin would advise President McCain to make ethics practice and reform a high priority. And I think its very likely that they would root out corruption where they find it.

    I am surprised at the lack of commentary on McCain’s involvement with the Keating Five all those years ago. I think he learned a lot from that mistake, and that he would have a very low tolerance for the kind of unethical foolishness your post describes.

    As to energy policy per se – I’m not convinced about more drilling myself. But I’ve yet to really hear BHO provide a viable energy plan. What is he thinking?

  2. James McPherson said

    Though we may (or may not) disagree about taxes and drilling, I do agree with you about the whole Keating Five thing. I never thought McCain was as bad as the others involved (all Dems, I think), and was more careless than corrupt. (Incidentally, I’d also had the opportunity to talk to Chuck Keating a few years earlier, and didn’t trust him.)

    A few things bother me about McCain/Palin in terms of ethics. First, they keep misrepresenting the facts. That may be viewed as political necessity, but it still bugs me. And yes, Obama has done it, too, though FactCheck.org seems to find more of it on the GOP side. And with my own bias, I may admittedly overlook a bit more from “my side.”
    Second, McCain has too many friends and chief advisors who are lobbiests, and I think much of the corruption in DC stems from those folks.
    Third, McCain has hired Askew, the same guy who on behalf of George Bush sabotaged McCain’s 2000 campaign with nasty campaigning in South Carolina.
    Fourth, I think McCain won the GOP nomination in part because he was the candidate most supportive of the president–but now can’t get far enough away from him. Then he ran on “experience,” but now is trying to claim the mantle of “change.” Not a bad idea; just not consistent.
    Fifth, McCain–one of the most anti-torture, anti-Guantanamo guys in Congress–now seems to back torture and criticizes the Supreme Court for finding fault with the habeus corpus rights that I think the old more libertarian McCain would have found necessary. His former view is what I once admired most about him, and the switch has been my biggest disappointment with him–far more than his other flip-flops involving tax cuts and immigration.

    For her part, Palin may be a reformer, but I’m not yet totally convinced of that. I might be pursuaded in the coming days as we find out more about her and get to hear her answer questions that aren’t part of the stump speech. It sounds like she did OK in tonight’s ABC interview, though I didn’t get home in time to see it.

    By the way, unlike some folks I don’t think she should be beaten up for going after earmarks (though admittedly that’s part of why I’m not yet sure of her reform credentials). As mayor and governor, her responsibility was more to the people of her city and state than to the rest of us. As always, thanks for the comment.

  3. [...] Written elsewhere by James McPherson on September 12th, 2008 I did a sociological experiment with yesterday’s post, using a title and tags that I thought might draw a larger-than-usual audience. Somewhat sadly, I [...]

  4. [...] folks have been joined by a skittish populace and even more shaky members of Congress, and unless recent scandals manage to stop it, American’s shores are likely to see more offshore [...]

  5. [...] has taught me some interesting things, some more surprising than others. Not surprising is that my most popular post (approximately 1,700 views so far) was a misleadingly titled sociological experiment, sought [...]

  6. [...] thing that matters, of course, or I could simply keep doing what I did as an experiment back on Sept. 11. That day was my second-busiest ever in terms of traffic (topped only by the 876 views I got on [...]

  7. [...] that the government/BP estimate (and how nice it would be if we could separate the oil companies from government) of 5,000 barrels per day may be off–by 65,000 barrels or so. In other words, the spill may [...]

  8. [...] typical government-big business revolving door to the Bush-era revelations of agency sex and drugs (https://jmcpherson.wordpress.com/2008/09/11/crude-sex-drugs-mme-chicks-gone-wild/), and in this area, as with immigration and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (where we just had our [...]

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