back to the Black Table
     
  MUCH ADO ABOUT HUFFINGTON  
   
   
 

Arianna Huffington is a five-star crackpot, which is easily forgotten when she's accusing the world of supporting terrorism by driving around in sport utility vehicles.

The advertisements are on the television set.

As her theory goes, Americans who choose to drive the kids to school in Chevy Suburbans, which get a whopping 13 miles per gallon, are also lining the pockets of Middle Eastern oil barons who support terrorism.

Further proving the adage that a stopped clock is right twice a day, Huffington does have a point. Yes, Republicans love the automobile industry, which keeps churning out gas-guzzlin' tanks. Yes, oil does support terrorists across the world, and the Bush Administration is incredibly hypocritical for openly supporting pro-oil policies.

SHE HAS A POINT, KIND OF.

Ten percent of the world's oil comes from Iraq, Iran, and Libya, three countries that have links to various terrorist organizations and have used oil money to fund terrorist operations, according to the U.S. government. Another 17 percent comes from Saudi Arabia, where Osama bin Laden was born, and a country with its own questionable links to terror, thanks to a filthy rich ruling class whose only loyalty is to money.

Venezuela provides the United States with 14 percent of its crude oil, but that country is in the middle of a very long strike by oil workers, which has roiled the world's markets. And while America will not buy oil from Iraq, Iran and Libya, the commodification of oil makes it impossible for us to be sure money doesn't get back into their hands. After all, oil is oil is oil.

"SUVs increase our consumption of oil and gas. However, you can't tell where one barrel came from once it enters the marketplace," explains John Tobin, executive director of The Energy Literacy Project, a non-profit entity devoted to disseminating fact and fiction when it comes to energy. "So, in that sense, for every gallon that's burned there will be a couple of ounces from a country that might be more amenable to supporting terrorists."

American cars suck up oil. There are currently more than 20 million SUVs on American roads and they average a whole 15 miles to the gallon. Cars usually get about 30 to 35 miles per gallon on the highway. The best car on the road, the Honda Insight hybrid vehicle, gets 68 mpg.

So Huffington clearly has her valid points. But she makes a leap of logic that's on par with Evel Kneivel's Snake River Canyon jump. With mouthing off about SUVs, Huffington could also accuse people who buy plastic products of supporting terrorism, since they're largely made from petrochemicals, too. So are some cosmetics, which Huffington clearly supports.

In many ways, America implicitly supports terrorism all over the place, just by being an industrialized nation. And as Tobin says, "there's nothing you can do to stop that unless you stop burning all gasoline. Accordingly, the SUV argument makes no sense at all and should have nothing to do with the terrorism issue."

THEN AGAIN.

Americans would be wise to take Huffington in small doses. She's the type of woman who is likely to tell you that you can wring butter from a chicken if you think only positive thoughts.

Before she was Huffingtoned, Arianna Stassinopolous was born in Greece and educated in Cambridge, where she was a regular in the British gossip columns. Twenty-one years ago, she wrote a book about Maria Callas, left England and everyone in New York City went wild for her.

Once stateside, Stassinopolous began to social climb, dating Presidential candidate Jerry Brown and hanging out with rich oil people like the Getty family. Married Michael Huffington, the oil-magnate and heir to the Huffco fortune in 1986. Spent $100,000 on the wedding. Wrote a controversial book about Pablo Picasso in 1988. Did some talk radio stuff. Encouraged hubby to spend $28 million on a losing bid for a California
Senate seat in 1994. The Huffingtons divorce. Michael Huffington tells Esquire that he's gay. Everyone says Arianna Stassinopolous Huffington knew all along.

Well, that -- aaand Huffington was an ordained minister in the Movement for Spiritual Inner Awareness, a new-age religious cult that was founded in 1963 by John-Roger, who woke up from gall-bladder surgery and thought he was bigger than Jesus Christ. (Yes, really.)

COME ON, REALLY?

Apparently, not everyone can keep this in mind when they hear Huffington accuse them of treasonous levels of gluttony in those 30-second spots.

Psychologist Dr. Robert Butterworth, of Los Angeles-based International Trauma Associates, who owns a 2003 Lincoln Town Car and a 1999 Xterra, says he felt Huffington is using "guilt as a result of hearing the add and making the psychological association between gas consumption and terrorism."

Erik Ritchie, a vice president at Graham & Sons, a marketing firm in San Francisco, Calif., recently sold his Nissan Pathfinder and went back to a car to reduce his gas use.

"It is morally wrong that this nation can see the damage oil causes yet still not make efforts to reduce the amount we use," Ritchie says. "We are the nation destroying, bombing, raiding, kidnapping and generally acting without a shred of moral fiber in an effort to keep our tanks filled."

Maybe true. Then again, getting rid of your SUV while continuing to run the air conditioner at full blast accomplishes nothing. This issue is larger than just one type of vehicle and that's being obscured by Huffington's whole brouhaha. It's about an entire lifestyle change, a revolution in consumption, a new way of living on less. And clearly, the millionaire ex-wife of an oil tycoon isn't about to start giving lessons on living on less.

At some point, this whole debate may be rendered moot. John Tobin, the environmentalist, thinks so. "The day will come when energy supply will be of no concern to mankind. It is not impossible," he says. "A hundred years ago, other than Jules Vern, Albert Einstein and a handful of others, who would have even imagined nuclear power?"


*BT*