July 10, 2010

Candidate Ron Johnson's oil and (mostly) gas

Item: Millionaire Fox News Republican heavily invested in BP
Campaign manager Juston Johnson said Ron Johnson thought it was inappropriate to focus first on BP's negligence before the spill was capped and a cleanup was under way.
What a load of bollocks.

Because it was none other than candidate Ron Johnson who was announcing "the fact" of BP's negligence last month, based on an article he'd read in the Wall Street Journal. The article said nothing of negligence; it compared BP's and other oil companies' use of two different engineering techniques for undersea drilling. Johnson took the report as fodder for speculation, and leaped to a legal conclusion during, ironically, a colloquy on his reverence for the "rule of law."

Accusing a firm in which you're heavily invested of negligence does not smack of acting in one's rational self-interest. Suspicions about the company's carelessness are among the reasons why its share price lost more than half its value throughout May and June (it's on a rebound as of late, closing the week at 34.05 after sinking to 26.75).

Also during the same discussion candidate Ron Johnson declared BP's voluntary $20 billion escrow fund "not good for America," thus igniting Friday's hubbub over whether Johnson was speaking to cover his assets, which reportedly include up to $325K worth of BP stock.

On the other hand, Johnson's individual stock portfolio is almost entirely blue chip — he owns shares in a number of the Dow Jones 30 industrials: Alcoa, Caterpillar, DuPont, GE (Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, and Keith Olbermann's boss), IBM, Pfizer, P&G* — so it's hardly surprising he's got a whole whack of BP stashed in there too.

Naturally, much political hay is being generated by Johnson's financial disclosure, but what seems more significant are the candidate's incoherent pronouncements, now made even less credible with Johnson's oddball self-renunciation of his finding of BP's negligence.

* As well as Big Tobacco concerns Philip Morris and Altria.

Amusingly, Johnson also owns stock in the Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank, two venerable Canadian financial institutions. Those are solid investments, as the True North socialists have managed the recession far better than has the U.S. economy, and in spite of Ron Johnson's ridiculous attacks on that country's health care system.

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