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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street: May 13

4. Big Oil's Tax Time Theater

The battle between Big Oil's big five and the Senate on Thursday featured a little bit of everything, most of it, the typical embarrassing displays of grandstanding and corporate doublespeak that is the lifeblood of political theater.

There was ConocoPhillips (CVX - Get Report) CEO James Mulva being called to task for his company's statement that the proposal to eliminate the Big Oil tax breaks was "un-American," leading to a new version of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, not seen since the days of Joe McCarthy, with Senators daring the ConocoPhillips CEO to say that all 28 co-sponsors of the bill were 'un-American."

There was Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) getting the proceedings off to an apt start by having a video exhibit of a dog-and-pony show posted next to the Senate dais, and saying that ""Democrats are trying to score cheap political points at the expense of Big Oil."

We disagree. It seemed most of the time Democrats were trying to make the high school debate team. And they did a good job of it.

Ron Wyden (D-OR) bested Hatch's dog-and-pony show in placing on the video screen Big Oil CEO commentary from 2005, when oil was at the unbelievable price of $55 a barrel and each and every Big Oil CEO, and President Bush, said they had no need of incentives.

Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) was certainly ready for high school debate, asking the Big Oil executives to answer this question, "Should we protect your tax breaks or student financial aid?" Right, Chuck, it's really all comes down to Big Oil destroying the educational opportunity for American students.

So, what did we learn? Well, while $4 gas and a massive federal deficit remain reality, comprehensive energy policy from the Senate seems about as likely as waking up tomorrow to discover a unicorn outside your window. And an honest answer from Big Oil about the impact of the tax issue is about as likely as getting an honest apology from ConocoPhillips CEO Mulva about calling factions in the Senate not in the pocket of Big Oil "un-American."
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