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Raymond J. Learsy Headshot

"House Votes to Void Oil Company Tax Breaks. Humbug! We Have Former Interior Secretary Gale Norton on Our Side!"

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That's probably the name of the tune that Shell is whistling while skipping down the halls of Congress making sure the Senate dilutes the House measure to meaninglessness. In an Administration that has excelled at appointments that could be characterized as the less you are competent, the higher your position or your award, Gale Norton has hit a "home run".

As President Bush's appointed Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton served from January 2001 to March 2006. In an administration where the buck has habitually stopped nowhere, her tenure was highlighted by these glowing words of acclaim by one Earl Deveney, The Interior Department's Inspector General. While accusing top officials in his agency of fostering a culture of 'management irresponsibility" that tolerated conflicts of interest "Short of crime anything goes at the Department of the Interior", further causing Rep. George Miller ( D. California) to comment "If things keep going like this we're going to need two sets of handcuffs; one for the oil companies and one for the bureaucrats"

But not to worry. The oil patch can handle it. And who does the House think it is anyway! The nation has a higher calling. And Shell is riding to the rescue for all its brethren in the oil game. Because of Shell's beneficence, Gale Norton is back. She has been hired by Shell to serve as general counsel for Shell's unconventional resources division. i.e. focusing on emerging technologies for oil shale and heavy oil.
Well and good, but it would be interesting to see her telephone log in the weeks to come. How many calls to the Interior Department, how many calls and visits to the Hill.

It raises the whole issue of public sector employees being hired by industries with whom they have had a fiduciary relationship. It is an issue that has run rampant in the Congress past, to the grave detriment of the nation's interests and to the great benefit of the well oiled and well connected special interests. Will this new Congress really change anything, or will it just be talk without substance?

What do you want to bet??