In 2000 the weekly magazine "The Nation", which is a progressive publication which describes itself as "the flagship of the left," published an article entitled "Gore's Oil Money."
The article describe the ties between Gore's family and Occidental Petroleum. Gore's father U.S. Senator Albert Gore, Sr., represented Occidental Petroleum for years. Upon leaving the Senate in 1970, Gore Sr. was given a $500,000 a year job and a seat on the board of Occidental Petroleum.
According to The Nation:
At the time of his death in 1998, Gore the elder's estate included hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of Occidental stock. The Vice President is the executor of the estate, which still includes the stock and whose chief beneficiary is his mother.
The Nation article goes on to describe Vice President Gore's efforts on behalf of Occidental Petroleum to obtain oil drilling rights in Columbia on land claimed by the 5,000-member U'wa tribe. The Clinton Administration and high ranking officials including Gore and Energy Secretary Bill Richardson (now a presidential candidate) lobbied the Columbia government on behalf of Occidental Petroleum.
The U'wa tribe didn't want the drilling on land they considered sacred. Occidental Petroleum eventually did get the drilling rights. After years of shareholder resolutions, legal battles, extensive civil disobedience and a failed test well, the company eventually abandoned the project.
The Nation also describes Vice President Gore's involvement in the sale of Elk Hills oilfield:
Occidental's investment in Gore has paid rich dividends. In late 1997 the Vice President championed the Administration's $3.65 billion sale to the company of the government's interest in the Elk Hills oilfield in Bakersfield, California, the largest privatization of federal property in US history. On the very day the deal was sealed Gore gave a speech lamenting the growing threat of global warming. Gore also maintains a close friendship with Occidental CEO Ray Irani. In 1996 the latter spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Two days later his company donated $100,000 to the DNC. In 1994 Irani traveled with Commerce Secretary Ron Brown on a trade junket to Russia. Four years later, Irani was invited to a state dinner at the White House for Colombian President Pastrana.
The Center for Public Integrity, which is a "nonprofit organization dedicated to producing original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern," put out a book in 2000 called "The Buying Of The President 2000." Here is an excerpt from that book:
For example, in the Democratic Party, Vice President Al Gore has a long-time relationship with Occidental Petroleum that has been enormously beneficial to the company. Occidental's late chairman, the controversial Armand Hammer, liked to say that he had Gore's father, Senator Albert Gore, Senior, quote, "in my back pocket", unquote. When the elder Gore left the Senate in 1970, Hammer hired him for $500,000 a year. Personally and professionally the vice president has profited from Occidental largess. To this day he still draws $20,000 a year from a land deal in Tennessee brokered between his father and Hammer. The total amount is more than $300,000. The personal relationship between young Gore and Hammer was very close throughout the 1980's, including trips on Hammer's private jet and constant campaign contributions.
Of course Al Gore is not alone in these types of relationships. This type of conduct is the rule rather than the exception among the powerful. This is one of the reasons I believe big government is harmful. Big government winds up serving big powerful interests rather the the common person.
Another quote from "The Buying Of The President 2000":
Each of the leading presidential candidates in the 2000 election has done public policy favors for his campaign contributors. Every major White House contender who has held past elective office has career patrons or long-time financial sponsors who have underwritten his political career. And every major aspirant has used his government position to help those patrons.
This mutually beneficial relationship between a politician and his patrons is seldom acknowledged or discussed publicly. Indeed, none of the current presidential candidates would agree to be interviewed for The Buying of the President 2000. Yet these relationships between candidates and their sponsors can reveal a more accurate picture of the practical logistics and accommodations of achieving power in today's electoral process. It is a vision that extends beyond common political rhetoric.