The day T. Boone Pickens met the Georgia tea party

Billionaire oilman and entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens met the Georgia tea party Thursday.

The two forces eyed each other with some admiration. But don’t expect the relationship to flourish. They don’t agree on the basics.

Billionaire entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens. Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg

Billionaire entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens. Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg

The occasion was the 2011 Manufacturing Summit in Dalton. For the better part of the day, Georgia’s political and economic center shifted from Atlanta to the mountains — a region that, despite hard times, still can claim more manufacturing jobs than any other area of the state.

In front of 900 or so job-hungry citizens, dozens of state officials, business executives and academics pondered an unemployment rate that remains only a whisper under 10 percent.

The first prominent speaker was U.S. Rep. Tom Graves of Ranger. More than any other House Republican from Georgia, Graves has embraced the tenets of the tea party movement. He reflects his constituency.

“I’m here to get out of your way,” Graves told the audience, declaring that the country was ailing from “a pox” of government regulation and interference.

But it was Pickens who drew the crowd. The legendary businessman has spent the past few years pushing Washington toward an energy policy, and he opened with a line familiar to anyone who has sat through any GOP breakfast in the past two years.

“We are dependent on oil from people that don’t like us,” Pickens said. He is a natural gas man and has pushed wind turbines as well. But Pickens says he isn’t picky.

“Anything from America, I’m for. I’m not even against ethanol,” he declared. “It’s an ugly baby, but it’s our baby.”

So far, so good. But from that point on, Pickens and his tea party listeners drifted apart.

For more than two years, Republican energy policy has emphasized the oil-laden phrase coined by Newt Gingrich: “Drill here, drill now.” It is based on the free-market presumption that more supply will result in less demand — and lower prices at the gas station.

Pickens, who knows more about oil than all but a handful of souls on earth, cried poppycock. The price of oil, he said, is controlled in the Middle East, by OPEC.

If Pickens told his listeners once, he told them three times: “They set the price of oil. If anybody thinks it’s a free market for oil, they’re kidding themselves. There’s no free market for oil.” And to focus merely on pushing down the price of a barrel, he said, is a Sisyphean chore that will leave this country forever in the clutches of the Middle East.

Moreover, if the game is rigged on the far side of the world, this country — for the sake of its own national security — should do some fixing of its own, Pickens argued.

His latest project is House Resolution 1380, a bill now before Congress that’s designed to promote the conversion of the 8 million tractor-trailers — the 18-wheelers that dominate the nation’s interstates — from diesel fuel to natural gas.

Five billion dollars in tax subsidies over five years would be aimed at the creation of a petroleum-free infrastructure of fueling stations and manufacturers across the country.

“As we go up on the use of our resources, it allows us to negotiate on the price of oil,” Pickens said.

The billionaire pointed his audience to his website, www.pickensplan.com, which would keep them apprised of his fight. And allows him to bring his supporters down on the Washington forces lined up against him.

Pickens said he was about to send thousands of emails the way of a Kansas congressman who had decided that, rather than embrace Pickens’ plan, he would prefer to let the free market work. “If you think OPEC is a free market, you are badly, badly missing the point,” Pickens said of the congressman. OK, so that’s four times.

Pickens didn’t mention the name of the wayward House member, but he is Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Wichita who had declared a week earlier that government shouldn’t be in the business of “picking winners and losers” in the energy field.

Pompeo is, like Graves, a newcomer to Congress and a tea party adherent. He was supported by Washington-based Americans For Prosperity, a major underwriter of the tea party movement.

In the middle of Pickens’ speech, I asked Graves whether he had endorsed HR 1380. He replied that Pickens had brought it to his attention only that morning.

Graves made no commitment and afterward spoke well of Pickens. “He’s trying to transition us from one type of fuel to another. He’s beginning to think ahead. That’s what makes him such a great entrepreneur,” the Georgia congressman said.

But Graves didn’t sound like he was leaning Pickens’ way.

“Let’s have all the options available to the American people and let them choose what’s best for them. You’ve got to create a marketplace in which everybody has the least expensive alternatives out there available,” he said. “You don’t need a manipulated marketplace to drive it. It’s all about supply and demand.”

In other words, a free market.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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115 comments Add your comment

TBONE BACKS OBAMA

May 21st, 2011
3:21 pm

WHAT ARE YOU THINKING GEORGIA???? T-BONE IS ON BOARD OBAMA ENVIRONMENTAL ENERGY TRAIN!!! HES NOT ONE OF US!!! HES AN OIL MAN, STEALING THE LOCAL RESOURCES, FROM DRILLING INTO OTHER PEOPLES PROPERTIES FROM UNDERGROUND!!! INTO THEIR PROPERTIES!!!

TBONE BACKS OBAMA

May 21st, 2011
3:22 pm

DO SOME RESEARCH ON THESE PEOPLE!!! HES A CAP AND TRADE PROMOTER!!!

Liann

May 21st, 2011
3:52 pm

QUOTE: “Graves made no commitment and afterward spoke well of Pickens. “He’s trying to transition us from one type of fuel to another. He’s beginning to think ahead. That’s what makes him such a great entrepreneur,” the Georgia congressman said.” ENDQUOTE

BS!!! Billionaires make profits of their interest while they sleep, while they are in a coma, while they are lying on their deathbed. Anybody who ever got a billion dollars got it by overcharging their customers — it was not a fair deal — and Pickens got his loot by looting, hostile trading killing off Amerca businesses because he had more junk bonds. Finally, there’s nothing FORWARD THINKING about applying what Jimmy Carter said sitting in his sweater at a televised speech in the 1970s. The “Tea Party” is really the Koch-Wing-of-the-Republican Tea-Party, and it is another billionaire befuddling the stupid and the gullible for hostile takeover and dismantling America. The billionaire vampires are fighting over who gets to sink their fangs in America’s neck. Why is AJC so ignorant — why is Georgia so ignorant?

Clinton "Skink" Tyree

May 21st, 2011
3:56 pm

@Will Jones – Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis: Son, where’d you say you’re from. You ain’t from around here are you? You might ought to talk to your doctor about those voices you’re hearing in your head.

Brenda

May 21st, 2011
4:03 pm

The AJC blogs just get stranger and stranger.

Travis McGee

May 21st, 2011
4:09 pm

One thing the ol’ T. Boone didn’t mention is that oil is a commodity and is open to speculation, particularly when there’s unrest in the oil producing regions. So, in a real sense, GREED and the speculators are bidding the price of oil up — and there ain’t nuthin’ the Prez can do about it.

You can Drill Baby, Drill, but it will be just a drop in the bucket compared to our demand. There won’t be any serious effort to wean America from fossil fuel as long as the politicians are in the hip pocket of big oil. Term limits and election reform — cutting off the big bucks from big oil and lobbyists — will free up the politicians to act on behalf of their constinuencies.

But that ain’t gonna happen. And, so it goes. . . .

Clinton "Skink" Tyree

May 21st, 2011
4:10 pm

Is there a full moon tonight?

findog

May 21st, 2011
4:10 pm

Rep Graves is a MORON!
Fuel is a utility, it needs to have easements for pipelines that no one wants in their backyard and only the government can condemn the necessary tracts of land to make any utility feasible. Go ahead and drill more baby, OPEC will just turn their spigot one notch tighter to keep there anti-American petrol-dollars high so that they can continue to train the next Wahhabism inspired Osama bin Laden.
Let’s have all the options available? Does the meth hotel magnate even know what leadership is?
-The position or function of a leader
-Ability to lead
-An act or instance of leading; guidance; direction

Elected representatives of our government need to lead and not cower to every tri-corner hat wearer’s individual whim. To lead is to choose and to choose everything is to choose nothing.

Last Man Standing

May 21st, 2011
4:12 pm

Will Jones – Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis:

You wearing your tin-foil hat again? You might ought to trade it in for a helmet. I saw four black helicopters flying low and headed in your direction. I believe your number is up! The Tri-Lateral Commission is coming for you.

findog

May 21st, 2011
4:17 pm

LMS, didn’t momma tell you about teasing wild animals?

Last Man Standing

May 21st, 2011
4:19 pm

findog:

You’re right, I’m sorry.

brad

May 21st, 2011
4:19 pm

Mr. Galloway, thanks for providing a forum for another calm and rational discussion of the issues of the day.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

May 21st, 2011
4:25 pm

The tories said Thomas Jefferson should “wear a tinfoil hat,” too…no, wait, tinfoil hadn’t been invented yet so they called him a “whig,” instead. Americans, worthy of the name, use your brains.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

May 21st, 2011
4:28 pm

P.S. LMS I wore a helmet from ‘68 – ‘72, after swearing the Oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign AND DOMESTIC. How about yourself?

Last Man Standing

May 21st, 2011
4:28 pm

I have listened to Mr. Pickens for some time now, and I must admit that I can’t figure him out. Pickens must be intelligent, and I concur that OPEC sets the prices, but he offers no REAL alternative. Wind and solar can do very little to replace our use of fossil fuels. Natural gas is a viable option, but suffers, to an extent, the same limitations as wind and solar. Battery powered vehicles, though improved, are still not a reality and won’t be for years to come. The best answer is still drill here and drill now. The profit margin on oil is small, but if we produce all that we need and do not export the oil, domestic oil should be able to produce a higher profit margin while lowering the consumer’s price at the pump.

Last Man Standing

May 21st, 2011
4:30 pm

Will Jones – Atlanta Jeffersonian:

1967-68.

findog

May 21st, 2011
4:31 pm

WJ, Adams was the Whig, Jefferson was the original Democrat

findog

May 21st, 2011
4:34 pm

LMS, natural gas is already drilled and available here in the USA
We just need to convert the fleets of trucking lines and make available the pipelines to the truck stops
I really think the bone man only does wind and solar to ready his meeting with Saint Peter

Aquagirl

May 21st, 2011
4:41 pm

LMS, unless we drastically reduce our consumption, there is no way we can produce “all we need.” The drill here drill now crowd deliberately ignores this point. We do not have the oil resources.

And findog is right, quit picking at Will Jones. You’ve been around long enough to know better. There’s AJC blog mean (where you slam people like me) and real life mean (where you slam people like Mr. Jones.)

Rabbit

May 21st, 2011
4:51 pm

It is interesting to hear wild eyed capitalists (not a bad thing, mind you) denigrate Pickens for having a profit motive. We are dependent on oil because of the profit motive and we need to listen to oligarchs like Pickens to get ideas how to be self sufficient. He should not be worshiped or vilified. But he’s right that the middle east calls the shots now.

Last Man Standing

May 21st, 2011
4:52 pm

Aquagirl:

See my 4:19 pm post.

Last Man Standing

May 21st, 2011
4:54 pm

findog:

“We just need to convert the fleets of trucking lines and make available the pipelines to the truck stops”

Now, THAT is a great idea! The conversion wouldn’t be that hard, and it would reduce oil usage. It would (or should) result in lower prices to consumers at the stores.

findog

May 21st, 2011
4:54 pm

If Aquagirl ran as the GOP’s presidential candidate I’d really vote republican
But alas as the world is ending in sixty-seven minutes neither will happen…

Last Man Standing

May 21st, 2011
4:58 pm

findog:

I haven’t got much time left to polish my halo!

findog

May 21st, 2011
4:58 pm

LMS,
Dude that the first step in the bone man’s plan

findog

May 21st, 2011
5:02 pm

LMS,
I believe that you have lived a good life and while you have some less than WWJD republican ideas I believe that when he gets here in fifty-seven minutes he’ll give you the sin no more line and let you pass

Aquagirl

May 21st, 2011
5:03 pm

LMS—yeah, should have given you the attaboy for that. You still have a chance to split at 6 pm and skip out on Jesus’ wrath.

Findog, thanks, I used to be a Republican. Boy, they’d never have me now.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

May 21st, 2011
5:06 pm

findog – If you really care I can paste in Mr. Jefferson’s final letter to James Madison on his legacy – that His University be the guardian of the vestal flame of Whiggism. Guess you too have no idea what “whiggism” means? Hint: Read and understand the true meaning of the three mottoes on the Great Seal which form Our Creed as the blessed People of G-d’s Country.

LMS – US, NG, or ER? Just curious.

findog

May 21st, 2011
5:10 pm

AG, LMS, my only regret in fifty-one minutes will to have never met the two of you to debate the issues of the day face-to-face
Good luck at the pearly gates

findog

May 21st, 2011
5:11 pm

Willy J,
USArmy – won’t miss you in forty-eight minutes

Centrist

May 21st, 2011
5:14 pm

We do not have either an oil or natural gas shortage – if we did there would be rationing. We have demand, production and speculation currently outstripping supply until the rising price points are met. Pickens has made a big investment in natural gas which is currently at a historic low price point. He is marketing plans for augment wind energy with natural gas and conversion of diesel to natural gas to drive up demand, hence price and his investment. Nothing wrong with that as long as it is understood to be more economic than patriotic.

Aquagirl

May 21st, 2011
5:18 pm

Findog, thanks again, but no pearly gates for me. Jesus would have no more to do with me than the Republicans would.

You’ll have to carry your own weight on the blogs of the afterlife, whatever they look like—I’m not real convinced Jim will get a pearly gates pass either. The man spends too much time around politicians.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

May 21st, 2011
5:19 pm

findog – G-d’s spirit isn’t going to be “poured out on all flesh” today. I’m here to tell you. We must first “cast the Beast into the Pit.” I expect a good and righteous RA to help, as you swore the same Oath I did.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

May 21st, 2011
5:23 pm

findog

May 21st, 2011
5:32 pm

Seismically those in NW Georgia will be the first to perish as they are closest the Brevard and other fault line.

LMS being south of Atlanta may truly live up to his credo as he is in the least susceptible earthquake zone in the state

I will probably die in the tsunami from Lanier
The lack of major geologic hazards like volcanoes and earthquakes in Georgia results from Georgia’s location on a rifted passive margin of a continent, where there is a stable transition from the continental crust of North America to the ocean crust of the Atlantic.

Keep hope alive we’ve only got twenty-eight minutes to go…

findog

May 21st, 2011
5:35 pm

WJ, I, stated my name, did swear solemnly to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I did bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I did obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God; please I just got twent-one minutes left to live…

Last Man Standing

May 21st, 2011
5:38 pm

Will Jones – Atlanta Jeffersonian:

US

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

May 21st, 2011
5:38 pm

Guess you didn’t. Enjoying promoting hysteria? Ain’t happening today.

findog

May 21st, 2011
5:39 pm

LMS, reminds me of the chow line in basic: RA, NG, ER

Alabama Communist

May 21st, 2011
5:40 pm

More Breaking News On Pickens Speech………A poll was taken among the Republican Tea Party faithful who said they were drawn to the Speech since most thought it was Slim Pickens from the Failsafe movie who got nuke by the Russians………

Last Man Standing

May 21st, 2011
5:41 pm

findog:

As a young boy, I would find fossils of fish near where I live. That, combined with extraordinary anount of sand here, convinced me that where I live used to be the coast. I always think how easily it come become the coast again!

findog

May 21st, 2011
5:43 pm

AG, I got a plus one for working on disaster recovery sites over the years; can I escort you to the Armageddon Ball?

Aquagirl

May 21st, 2011
5:45 pm

fin, I think you’re right—-looks like the Icelanders (Icelandians?) are gonna get it first since one of their volcanoes went kablooey. If it produces as much ash as the last big one, it might be the end of the world for some airline executives.

Aquagirl

May 21st, 2011
5:47 pm

And I’ll pass on the Armageddon Ball, I have absolutely nothing to wear. Darn it.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

May 21st, 2011
5:49 pm

LMS – No care that 58,000 of died after Bush1, Nixon and CIA popped Our Command-in-Chief six weeks after he’d ordered us out of VN (NSAM263) with 120 of us dead? US took the same Oath, iirc. You a greencarder? Foreign national?

findog

May 21st, 2011
5:50 pm

LMS, AG,
Well in ten minutes I guess we’ll all know who was right and who was wrong
Or we’ll just be glad another false profit provided us a chance to recognize that though we disagree on many things we all love being American and free…

jd

May 21st, 2011
5:50 pm

If you don’t want to pick winners and losers, why isn’t Tom and the rest of the GOP supporting the removal of tax subsidies to the oil industry?

Aquagirl

May 21st, 2011
5:52 pm

I already scheduled “loot and riot” for this evening, and I’m not letting this change my plans.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

May 21st, 2011
5:53 pm

Where treason rules none is free.

findog

May 21st, 2011
5:55 pm

AG,
Well maybe the next time the world’s going to end…