Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio and Trial Magazine Executive Editor Farron Cousins take a look at Marathon Petroleum, an example of the fossil fuel industry quietly working behind the scenes to make sure that we keep certain policies in place, and to reduce fuel economy standards for cars. Also, RT correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to discuss how Google’s censored Chinese search engine Project Dragonfly is reportedly dead after internal conflict.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             If you aren’t already convinced that corporations control the federal government, then look at the administration’s efforts to roll back fuel economy standards for cars. This entire initiative was created and drafted and executed by the fossil fuel industry and the administration gave them a rubber stamp of approval. Now, Farron, I’d like to say that this is new, but it’s not. It’s called corporate capture. That’s what’s happening here. We used to have industry that was actually they had to answer to somebody, but not anymore. Now you have regulatory agencies that really don’t care if they answer.

This story is particularly bothersome because it’s being sold. Facebook, we’re going to talk about Facebook a lot in the next few weeks, but Facebook is that they’re the go to people to sell the idea and the idea, this is the talking point, we should have a car freedom agenda. We should be able to choose if we want to drive, if we want to drive a gas guzzler, we ought to be able to do it. So now the fuel industry is secretly doing this. They real stealth operation. The Koch brothers running through Facebook. What’s your take on this story?

Farron Cousins:                  This is such a massive new report and again, it’s disappointing something like this doesn’t get the coverage that it deserves, but what happened is that we had journalists who uncovered this massive scam, it was being run primarily by Marathon Oil, with funding from the Koch brothers going through the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC. So you have all the major players out there, all of them out there. And what they’re doing is they’re going state by state as one example, and helping draft legislation saying, hey, your state, don’t you want to be able to choose what happens in your state rather than let those guys in DC decide for you. So here’s what you do and this, I think it was an 18 word bill, they helped each state draft was.

Mike Papantonio:             Drafted by the industry.

Farron Cousins:                  Right, by the industry, and handed over to them that essentially said, we’re going to set our own fuel economy standards for our vehicles. So that was one path. The second one was that they wanted everybody in this country to submit a request to the EPA that says, allow us the freedom of choice, the freedom to pollute more.

Mike Papantonio:             A Facebook ad?

Farron Cousins:                  Right, and this was a Facebook ad. They had two different ads. One of them had Obama in this evil looking picture that said, would you buy a used car from this man? And the other one had Donald Trump looking heroic, saying support the president’s freedom agenda.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay, let me talk about the bottom feeders. There’s so many bottom feeders here beside the Kochs. We talk about Koch brothers, obviously you’re talking about the bottom feeders, but there are a lot others here. You’re talking about Ogilvy. Okay. The reason I know about Ogilvy, the PR firm there is not, and they go all the way back to tobacco. Now, here’s what’s interesting about this story. In tobacco, what Ogilvy has came up with this idea. The way we’re going to let people keep killing themselves is to say, you have the choice. Remember that?

You know the, remember the ads where they’d have the tell, the airplane, and they had these people standing out on the wing of the airplane to smoke their cigarettes. Right? And they were, the point was, you should be able to choose by golly, if you want to kill yourself with a cancer stick, you ought to be able to do it. We know we took, we actually saw the focus groups they did with this in the tobacco litigation and this idea of you ought to be able to choose, no matter how stupid you are, if you want to, no matter how, what an ignoramus you are, you ought to be able to choose to be an ignoramus.

So here, the same thing’s happening. The, this Ogilvy is getting all of this money and then pouring it into Facebook and we’re going to talk about that in just a second. There’s a reason they’re pointed into Facebook, but they’re pouring it into Facebook under their secret campaign, stealth campaign, and they’re saying, you know what’s so wrong about this is Obama wanted to make you choose the kind of car that you’re driving. You shouldn’t have to drive a Tesla if you don’t want to. You shouldn’t have to drive a Prius if you want to, if you want to drive a gas guzzling hummer, that’s you’re right. The constitution says that. That’s the way they’re selling this.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and what’s interesting is I don’t think people understand how bad the situation was before we, you know, increased fuel economy saying your vehicle has to get at least x amount of miles per gallon because down here in the south, the hummers were everywhere. The big massive jacked up trucks were everywhere, and they’ve been disappearing over the years because they can’t sell them anymore and they can’t make them fuel efficient. So it made a big difference. I mean, those things where every time you turned a corner you would find one.

Mike Papantonio:             It was always a guy, Bruce Willis, goateed, tough guys, shaved head, leather jacket. He wanted to choose to drive a hummer. Hey, I know so, but that’s the way Ogilvy has sold this thing. And the interesting thing is the major place they used to sell it was Facebook. Facebook, you know, this is really the real ugly side of it. Facebook is always talking about, you know, we need to be responsible in this vehicle that we’ve created called Facebook. As a matter of fact, we’re so responsible that we’re going to, we’re going to prevent people from telling stories that we disagree with.

It might be a right wing story we don’t like right wing and he got some snowflake up and wherever they are making a decision, oh, this is, this offends me. We can’t, we can’t use that. So what ends up happening is they Facebook now. Yeah, they’re gonna. They’re gonna censor everybody that they don’t like, but they’re going to let these pigs at the trough, the oil industry, who by the way, if they get away with this, they get to sell an extra 400, 400,000 barrels of oil a day. That’s what this is about.

Farron Cousins:                  And if you do the math actually based on what the price of oil is going for today, that’s more than $20 million dollars in extra revenue for them every single day. So that’s what’s at stake here. That’s why this is such a big deal. $20 million dollars per day. So if you make a campaign that only costs you $20 million dollars to do this, you make that back in a single day when you’re successful and they have been, you know, you mentioned Facebook here.

It’s important to note that when the EPA was accepting comments on whether or not to change the rule over 3,000 of the 12,000 that they received, it contained the same language that those Facebook ads contained. So they crafted the message for these people. In fact, they auto filled it. If you clicked on their little meme that they were sending around, all you had to do was add your name to the bottom and hit send. And that campaign worked brilliantly because Facebook said, well, you’re paying us a lot of money. Marathon Oil, Koch, brothers, Americans for Prosperity, whoever you are, you’re giving us tons of money. We know this is illegitimate. We know you’re lying, but we’re going to do it.

Mike Papantonio:                                            Google has reportedly killed the backbone of it’s controversial project to create a censored search engine for the Communist Party of China. The announcement comes after human rights groups and employees rose up in opposition to the project. RT correspondent, Brigida Santos joins us now with the details. Brigida, first, the obvious, tell us about this secret, this secret search engine. What’s it called and what kind of information did it aim to censor?

Brigida Santos:                                    The secret search engine known as Project Dragonfly is a mobile application built to be used on China’s most popular operating system, which is android. Now, if it had launched, the project would have impacted a vast majority of the countries’ internet users whose main source of connectivity is through a mobile device. According to leaked documents, the search engine relied on a data analysis system to log common words and websites that the Chinese government could then black from search queries. This means Chinese citizens wouldn’t have been able to use the search engine to look up words like human rights, find information about historical events, including the Tiananmen Square Massacre, access to accurate data about air quality and so on.

Mike Papantonio:                                            Isn’t it remarkable that Google was even at the table talking to them about this? I mean, let’s, you know, let’s be honest. Google knew exactly where it was going to go. Google knew exactly how it would be used and I wonder whether or not they’ve even created something like some variation of this to be used in the United States. There’s certainly plenty of criticism right now. You have conservatives that are saying, yeah, they’re kind of using the same kind of system to filter out anything that has to do with conservative discussion or maybe maybe left wing discussions that is considered too fanatical by Google. I don’t know who Mr. Google is who makes those decisions, but it’s interesting because you have to think maybe it went on here. How did Google employees help kill the main ingredient for this project, Brigida?

Brigida Santos:                                    At the end of November, about 1500 employees signed an open letter calling on Google to cancel the project and demanding more transparency about the ethical implications of their work. Prior to the leaks, most employees were completely unaware of the project’s existence. Google’s unofficial motto is don’t be evil, so it’s decision to start working on the project in the first place is incredibly shocking, especially because Google completely pulled its search engine out of China in 2010 over government censorship. Thanks to backlash within the company, Google has now been forced to kill all work on the data analysis system that powered Project Dragonfly.

Mike Papantonio:                                            Well, I can, you can bet one thing, had there not been any kind of uprising, even though Google understood that there’s zero question that Google clearly understood what the ramifications of this would be. They understood Tiananmen Square, they understood what could, they understood what happened after Tiananmen Square revolt. They understood how many people were executed because of that. They understood this was going to be a way for the government to actually get involved in that process of censoring not only censoring, censoring, and then hunting down the people who responsible, but I find it remarkable that the leadership of Google even sat down at the table with these thugs to do that. Look, Google’s CEO faced questions about the project. What were the key takeaways when he had to face those questions?

Brigida Santos:                                    Last week, CEO, Sundar Pichai told Congress he had no plans to launch a search engine for China “right now.” Now he claimed Dragonfly was merely exploratory, but his testimony leaves the door open for a future launch, which leaked transcripts hinted could come sometime during the first quarter next year, so we’re going to see in the coming months whether this project is really dead or not.

Mike Papantonio:                                            Well, this isn’t the first time, Brigida, that Google employees have protested the company’s involvement in controversial projects. As a matter of fact, I think you and I did a story similar to this just last year, but this isn’t the first time that this has occurred is it? I mean, we’ve seen it before.

Brigida Santos:                                    No, it absolutely isn’t. Employees had previously protested against Google’s involvement in helping the Pentagon with an AI drone footage monitoring project. Google responded to those protests by vowing not to renew his contract after it expires next year. That’s really nice to see the workforce standing up against corporate tyranny. I would like to mention that you know, these people are wealthy. They’re programmers at Google, a very well to do company. They’re making good money. It’s not always the case with other companies that are committing these types of abuses.

Mike Papantonio:                                            Yeah, well Brigida, I think we’re just seeing the edge of this because I think what’s going to spring out from this is what else are they up to? Because obviously they’re, they’ve developed a type of, they’ve developed the mechanism to do these kinds of searches to factor in these types of searches and I think people are going to be asking questions about are they using it, how are they using it? Have we already been a victim of this in the United States and other parts of the world? Thank you for joining me Brigida.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.