As if the forged letters, fake constituents and fake citizen groups were not enough (and really, they are), the astro-turf is getting so sloppy that in some cases they aren't even bothering to provide convincing fakery. Take the "Energy Citizens" project by the American Petroleum Institute, which is running a slick 22-city pro-dirty energy rally tour. Fortunately, some reporters are wise to the API fake rally tour. Here's what the Greeley (CO.) Tribune wrote:
The rally, one of 22 planned for across the country while Congress is in recess, was partially put together by the American Petroleum Institute, which opposes the climate bill. The Energy Citizen Rally received opposition from several environmental groups, such as Greenpeace and the National Resources Defense Council, who charged the "phony" events were planned and staged by big oil concerns.
I happened to be checking out the Energy Citizens site and clicked on the "Participating Organizations" link. Midway down the page, you will see listed the Hispanic Alliance for Progress Institute.
Go ahead and click on that link, which I don't think will be live for much longer. For the record, here's what I got when I clicked through:
That's right: It's an "under construction" Web page - usually the province of organizations that have just registered their newly invented URL. Now, the mysterious Hispanic organization here may not pan out for API, but there is always "Cougar Dating," which you can see halfway down the page that API's Energy Citizens is sending you to as of today.
This focus on older women in search of younger men opens up whole new Astroturfing possibilities for API. They could do a tie-in with the new TV show "Cougar Town" and have its star, Courtney Cox, act as their national spokesperson.
I can see it now: Cougars Against the Climate Bill.
In related news, there's all new coal Astroturfing with a group called "FACES" that is using ...wait for it! ... fake faces of its supposedly real people members. Robert Perks at NRDC has written on this and you can read more from Jeff Biggers and Appalachian Voices:
We've touched on the fact that the new coal industry front group "FACES" has yet to come forward with a list of their members. Well, thanks to a few new media> gumshoes, including our own Jamie Goodman and our friends at DeSmogBlog, we've learned that not only is FACES hosted by a K-Street firm called Adfero, but all of the "FACES" of coal are actually just istockphotos. They couldn't even get real photos of their supporters.
That, or they couldn't even get real supporters period.