Acton Institute Powerblog

The Years of Living Dishonestly

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A bit of honesty, please. The premium network Showtime is airing an original series, The Years of Living Dangerously, which pits such intrepid reporters as Hollywood B-list hotties Jessica Alba, Olivia Munn and America Ferrera against climate-change “deniers.” The May 19 episode featured Ms. Ferrera attempting to grill The Heartland Institute’s James Taylor (full disclosure: Taylor is a professional colleague and cigar buddy) on his efforts to roll back renewable energy standards on a state-by-state basis. On this, more below.

In the meantime, clergy, nuns and other religious shareholders are rending their respective garments over lobbying and political contributions performed by companies in which they invest. Never mind the religious shareholders directly benefit from corporate lobbying and political donations, what really matters to them is whether the companies’ efforts kowtow to the progressive agenda.

Witness the following religious groups and their 2014 shareholder resolutions submitted to the following companies:

  • Sisters of St. Francis, Lobbying: CVS Caremark Corporation; JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Episcopal Church, Lobbying: Comcast Corporation
  • Walden Asset Management, Lobbying: United Parcel Service of North America, Inc.; ConocoPhillips Co.; Google; Time Warner Inc.
  •  Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Lobbying: United Parcel Service
  • Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica: Lobbying, Facebook
  • Domini Social Investments, Political Contributions: JetBlue Airways Corporation
  • Unitarian Universalist Association and Mercy Investment Services, Enhance Board Oversight of Political Contributions: Aetna, Inc.
  • Trillium Asset Management, Political Contributions: Yahoo! Inc.

This leads me back to Ms. Ferrera’s attempted gotcha interview with Taylor. Ferrera loves wind turbines and those who build them, and she just, like, you know, is soooo worried about global warming. To prepare for her showdown with Taylor, Ferrera visits Lisa Graves and Brendan DeMelle. Both dish the dirt on Taylor (turns out he’s a lawyer by education, but just ignore the fact he’s quite the polymath) and his employer, including funding sources for the think tank.

Never mind, of course, that Graves is executive director for the George Soros-funded Center for Media and Democracy and an attorney by reputation. DeMelle is executive editor and managing editor of DeSmogBlog, a website that notoriously published purloined documents from The Heartland Institute in 2012. DeMelle, coincidentally, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Environmental Sciences, and his website frequently references Center for Media and Democracy and its affiliate SourceWatch for often incorrect information on who funds climate-change skepticism, which Ms. Ferrera dutifully parrots upon meeting Taylor.

Ferrera, of course, never asks Graves and DeMelle who funds their efforts. Further, she never questions the talking points the pair provides her prior to her confrontation with Taylor. When Taylor tells Ferrera her “facts” are, indeed, anything but, the actress sneers at him with disbelief. However, Graves and DeMelle are given a complete pass by Ferrera and, one assumes, the program’s producers, which include film director James Cameron.

The gall displayed by the Showtime producers is much the same as the shareholder activists listed above. The investors aren’t really concerned about lobbying and donations per se, but only ensuring proper issues are furthered. Readers doubting this assertion are encouraged to read about the dozens of resolutions filed over the years by the very same religious pertaining directly to hydraulic fracturing, carbon emissions and genetically modified organisms. Likewise, The Years of Living Dangerously crew isn’t interested in candid debate or even educating their audience. What they and religious shareholder activists hold in common is an affinity for agitprop. A little honesty, please.

Bruce Edward Walker has more than 30 years’ writing and editing experience in a variety of publishing areas, including reference books, newspapers, magazines, media relations and corporate speeches. Much of this material involved research on water rights, land use, alternative-technology vehicles and other environmental issues, but Walker has also written extensively on nonscientific subjects, having produced six titles in Wiley Publishing’s CliffsNotes series, including study guides for "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." He has also authored more than 100 critical biographies of authors and musicians for Gale Research's Contemporary Literary Criticism and Contemporary Musicians reference-book series. Most recently, he was managing editor of The Heartland Institute's InfoTech & Telecom News. Prior to that, he was manager of communications for the Mackinac Center's Property Rights Network. He also served from 2006-2007 as editor of Michigan Science, a quarterly Mackinac Center publication. Walker has served as an adjunct professor of literature and academic writing at University of Detroit Mercy. For the past three years, he has authored a weekly column for the mid-Michigan Morning Sun newspaper. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. He is the father of two daughters and currently lives in Midland, Mich., with his wife Katherine.

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