Even in their wildest dreams the oil boys at Exxon could never have imagined that their man would actually make it to one of the top jobs in the US Government.
But this now looks likely after the Senate Foreign Relations committee narrowly voted to approve ex-Exxon boss, T-Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State yesterday.
The vote was split down party lines with eleven Republicans voting for Rex and ten Democrats voting against.
Tillerson’s nomination became a formality after the last remaining Republican critic on the committee, Senator Marco Rubio dropped his opposition to the nomination. “Despite my reservations, I will support Mr Tillerson’s nomination in committee and in the full Senate,” he said.
The Pressure on Rubio from the Republican hierarchy has been intense, with the Washington Post reporting that, after two influential Senators – John McCain and Lindsey Graham – announced their support for Tillerson, “several people in Rubio’s circle said they see no upside to defying Trump, especially now that Tillerson is on the path to being confirmed.”
The paper added bluntly: “Rubio is aware that the backlash from the new White House would be intense, according to those close to him.”
Trump is such an egotistical fiery Demagogue that few Republicans dare cross him. So the Republican-controlled Senate now has to vote on Tillerson’s proposed appointment, but this looks a formality with McCain and Graham dropping their opposition.
So whereas environmentalists have been calling for a separation of oil and state for years, we now face a situation where we have a cementing of oil and state together. Exxon’s interest’s have never been more closely aligned with the US Government’s for years. We face a United States of Exxon.
And it is over Russia that many people have concerns (apart from climate change), especially due to Tillerson’s closeness to President Putin and Exxon’s desire to have sanctions lifted so they can start drilling in the Russian Arctic.
As the Financial Times noted the other day, Tillerson “has already made clear, however, that he is sceptical about sanctions.”
Tillerson, the paper detailed, had made Exxon’s views heard “at the highest levels” during visits to the White House in 2014-15. That was in the days of Obama. We now live in the days of Trump.
According to the FT: “In a few days’ time, Mr Tillerson may be able to express those views from inside the administration. As chief executive, he may not have been able to open up a whole new growth area for Exxon. Mr Trump could help to accomplish exactly that”.
And that is where the danger lies. The state and the oil industry have become one.