If you had any doubts about whose side the Republican Party is on, doubt no more. As first reported in the UK Guardian (not the US corporate media), eight of the seventeen GOP presidential candidates have been given campaign donations by a handful of hyper-wealthy persons – both natural and corporate – all of which have ties to the fossil fuel industry. So far, those donations total $62 million.

Almost one quarter of that amount was given to a single candidate: corporatist theocrat Ted Cruz, who received $15 million from Dan and Farris Wilks, right from his home state of Texas. You might not have heard of the Wilks, or the company they founded that was the basis of their fortune. However, the name of that company – Frac Tech (now known as FTS International) – says it all. In addition, Cruz has received $11 million from his “sugar daddy,” New York hedge fund manager and professional tax-dodger, Robert Mercer. Not surprisingly, Mercer’s ironically-named fund, “Renaissance” Technologies, is heavily invested in oil and petrochemicals. Altogether, Cruz has prostituted himself to the petroleum industry to the tune of $36.5 million – well over half of all money spent by Big Oil to buy the 2016 election.

Runner-up in the GOP candidate fire sale is Jeb Bush, who has received a mere $13.3 million from nine donors by way of Super PACs.  Bush is considered a GOP “moderate” – and compared to Ted Cruz, he surely is. Whereas Cruz is in complete denial over the issue, Bush acknowledges the reality of climate change. However, he refuses to recognize the role of “human activity” (i.e., the use of fossil fuels), saying, “I don’t think the science is clear what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural.”  One of his primary donors is Francis Rooney of Rooney Holdings (formerly Rooney Brothers Company), a holding company  serving the oil and gas industry. Not surprisingly, Rooney also sits on the boards of Laredo Petroleum and offshore drilling contracting firm Helmerich & Payne.

Jeb Bush’s equivocation is echoed by third-place winner Rick Perry, who sold himself to Kelcy Warren.  His company, Energy Transfer, builds oil and gas pipelines. In reference to the Keystone XL pipeline and the expansion of oil and gas drilling, Perry told the Dallas Morning News: “I don’t believe that we have the settled science by any sense of the imagination to stop that kind of economic opportunity… calling CO2 a pollutant is doing a disservice the country, and I believe a disservice to the world.” Perry believes that cutting back on the use of fossil fuels would “strangle our economy.”

Tied for fourth place are Scott Walker and Donald Trump at just under $2 million apiece. Trump, who has large investments in three major oil companies as well as TransCanada Pipelines, is his own donor. He is using his own private wealth to finance his campaign.

It is telling, not only that the fossil fuel industry is spending so much to buy off GOP candidates, but that the American corporate media has yet to make mention of it. Since the UK press broke the story on Tuesday, it has been reposted on a number of alternative news web sites – but you won’t hear or read anything about it from MSNBC, CNN or Fox “News.” It is yet another demonstration of how the corporate oligarchs have their grasping tentacles wrapped around the world’s throat, determined to squeeze every last drop of blood from it for their own profit – before it goes up in flames, taking them as well as the rest of us with it.

If that is not the very definition of insanity, it’s difficult to know what is.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.