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Strange Bedfellows

Why are liberal US tech entrepreneurs promoting oil drilling in a wildlife refuge?

When the tech sector’s leading lights, lead by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, committed to the immigration reform bill and formed a lobbying coalition called FWD.us to support it, I wondered whether they could sway conservatives. I wonder no more.

The ad below, in support of South Carolina Republican senator Lindsey Graham, comes from an organization called Americans for A Conservative Direction, the Republican subsidiary of FWD.us. You’ll notice it says a lot about healthcare and oil pipelines, but nothing about immigration.

The group has a Democratic subsidiary too, called Council for American Job Growth, which produced an ad, supporting Alaska Senator Mark Begich. It, too, says nothing about immigration.

This is fairly standard single-issue politicking. As these legislators consider voting for an immigration bill that their constituents might see as too soft on illegal immigrants, the ads are designed to provide political cover and bolster their approval ratings by extolling their record on other matters.

So if it seems incongruous to see Zuckerberg, who called for a transition away from an oil-dependent economy in an article announcing FWD.us, using his political funding to support more drilling, it’s because he’s decided that getting the foreign highly-skilled workers the tech sector says it needs is a higher priority than fighting the fossil-fuel lobby. Bill Gates, another advocate for renewable energy, is also a supporter of FWD.us.

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