Through June, Exxon employees have given Obama $42,100 to McCain’s $35,166. Chevron favors Obama $35,157 to $28,500, and Obama edges out McCain with BP $16,046 vs. $11,500. McCain leads the money race with nearly every other top giver in the oil and gas industry, though — Koch Industries, Valero, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, the list goes on. (You can see detail on all these companies in the spreadsheet linked below.) McCain also has a big edge with Hess Corp. — $91,000 to Obama’s $8,000 — which has gotten some attention. And, overall, McCain’s campaign has gotten three times more money from the industry than Obama’s has — $1.3 million compared to about $394,000.
Comparing Obama’s and McCain’s financial ties to the oil industry, there’s no question that McCain has benefited more from the industry’s contributions, just as his Republican Party has for years and years. But Obama’s edge with the oil producers Americans know best — and might be cursing most these days — makes it harder for him to continue to tar McCain as the industry’s darling.
I actually don’t see what the big deal is. Pretty much every single citizen in this country does regular business with the oil companies. They’re providing us with goods and services at an overall profit margin that’s much, much smaller than most other industries. And the political contributions the companies, and their employees, are making to both candidates are perfectly legal and totally transparent.
So what’s the big deal? I know it’s hip on the left to hate oil companies, but as I’ve asked before: Are we really supposed to believe that “big oil” is so inherently evil that the mere act of accepting perfectly legal political contributions from the industry is in and of itself enough to tarnish a candidate’s reputation?
If it is, Obama’s should be about as tarnished as McCain’s.