The “Biggest Profits Ever” Under “the Worst President Ever”

Here are some selected passages from the next and tenth issue of my semi-weekly Empire and Inequality Report, titled "Profit Surge": 

 Beneath all the welcome popular disgust with George W. Bush, it is easy to forget – and important to remember – that some special interests and individuals have reasons to rejoice at the wonders of life under The Worst President Ever (Eric Foner, “He’s the Worst Ever,” Washington Post, 3 December 2006)…  The economic men and women of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) were being more than polite when they greeted Bush with spontaneous and prolonged applause last week. They were expressing heartfelt capitalist gratitude…


Some specific and strategically placed capitalist interests have special reason to rejoice at their good fortune under the new King George. Look, for example, at the following story off the Associated Press Wire, reporting that Exxon-Mobil scored the single largest annual corporate profit ever enjoyed by a United States corporation in 2006:

“Oil Giant Exxon Posts Record Earnings”

“$39.5 Billion for 2006 Was Biggest Profit for a U.S. Company”

The Associated Press

4:01 p.m. CT Feb 1, 2007

“HOUSTON – Oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. on Thursday posted the largest annual profit by a U.S. company — $39.5 billion — even as earnings for the last quarter of 2006 declined 4 percent.”

“The 2006 profit topped Exxon Mobil’s own previous record of $36.13 billion set in 2005.”

“Revenue at the world’s largest publicly traded oil company rose to $377.64 billion for the year." 

“Exxon Mobil’s record annual earnings followed a year of extraordinarily high energy prices as crude oil topped $78 a barrel in the summer — driving up average gasoline prices in the United States to more than $3 a gallon. Prices retreated later in the year.”

“Results for the October-December period mimicked those of U.S. competitor ConocoPhillips, which last week said its fourth-quarter profit fell 13 percent — also primarily because of lower natural gas prices and refining margins. But hefty earnings earlier in the year helped Houston-based ConocoPhillips record it’s most profitable year on record, earning $15.55 billion.”

“ConocoPhillips is the nation’s third-largest integrated oil company behind Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp., which is scheduled to report 2006 results Friday.”

“Also Thursday, Royal Dutch Shell PLC reported a 21 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings, buoyed in part by high energy prices and the sale of some operations. Net profit came to $5.28 billion, up from $4.37 billion….”

“At Exxon Mobil, profit for the fourth quarter of 2006 declined to $10.25 billion from the $10.71 billion Exxon earned in the 2005 quarter — a record quarterly profit for any U.S. public company. That best-ever profit came when the price of both natural gas and crude oil skyrocketed in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which damaged wells, pipelines and refineries in the key energy-producing Gulf of Mexico…”(www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16922298)   


Isn’t capitalism marvelous? The Ninth Ward and Mississippi Delta’s tragedy is a windfall for top managers and shareholders at Exxon-Mobil, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell, where CEOs “earn” salaries equivalent to more than 500 times the average working-class wage in the U.S. 

On Thursday, February 1st,  NBC (owned by leading “defense” contractor General Electric) Evening News’s lead anchor Brian Williams and an analyst from CNBC smiled with irony as they discussed Exxon’s historic earnings. They observed that Exxon Mobil is an especially backwards firm when it comes to the development of “alternative fuels.”  Williams wondered on air about “what kind of message these record profits send to the energy industry.”

It was almost as if he thought capitalism was about meeting social needs and maintaining a sustainable ecology.

Later in the same broadcast, Williams referred to some reports suggesting that global warming “might be caused by human beings,” something that mainstream science has been insisting for many years.  The very next day the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a high-profile report giving yet more “unequivocal” evidence that global warming is (anti-) socially produced (E. Rosenthal and A. Revkin, “Science Panel Says Global Warming is Unequivocal,” New York Times, 3 February 2007, A1).

Neither Williams nor his CNBC colleague saw fit to observe that Katrina and Rita – those great profit bonanzas for Exxon – were likely related to the global warming to which Exxon, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell and other leading members of the petro-industrial complex have richly contributed.  They also failed to mention that Exxon-Mobil has spent many millions of dollars “funding a network of groups to challenge the existence of global warming” (see Chris Mooney, “Some Like it Hot,” Mother Jones [May-June, 2005]; “ExxonMobil Spends Millions Funding Global Warming Skeptics,” [Democracy Now, April 22, 2005, available online at www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid =05/04/22/1338256]).

The General Electric media operatives naturally had nothing to say about the key role that the Bush administration’s brazenly imperialist Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.) and related, surging U.S. threats to Iran have played in boosting oil prices and helping Exxon’s profits surge to unprecedented heights. 

NBC viewers heard nothing, of course, course, about Exxon-Mobil’s efforts to enhance its ecocidal bottom line by accessing Mesopotamian petroleum won for them (they certainly hope) by that marvelous “oil protection service” (Michael Klare, Blood and Oil [New York: Metropolitan, 2004]) called the U.S. Armed Forces.


 Another company with special cause to exult in the age of Bush II is the Chicago-based Boeing Corporation…ctd.


* Empire and Inequality Reports to date:

 “Victory Without Vision,” Issue 1 (November 11, 2006), read at www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11386;

“Neanderthal Continuities of a Bipartisan Nature,” Issue 2 (November 20, 2006), read at www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11444;

 ‘You Just Don’t Like George,’” Issue 3 (November 30, 2006), read at www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11511

“ ‘ Nobody’s Leaving’: Never Mind Democracy and Imperial Fiasco,” Issue 4 (December 10, 2006), read at www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11598

“Missions Accomplished,” Issue 5 (December 25, 2006), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11705

“Happy Imperial New Year,” Issue 6 (January 6, 2007), read at www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11789;

“We’ve Done More Than Talk,” Issue 7 (January 19, 2009), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11895

“The Imperial Lexicon,” Issue 8 (January 26, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11960;

“What is a Democracy?” Issue 9 (February 3, 2007), read at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=72&ItemID=12033

For what it's worth, I will return to the comments section and to respond to certain respectful and relevant comments or queries when possible – received many private messages on this (PS).


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