Across America, every evening as families gather for dinner or around the television to watch “American Idol” or catch up on the day’s events, they are bombarded with political ads, automatic phone calls, direct mail pieces and other political paraphernalia aimed at influencing how they will vote come Nov. 2.
With more “seats” in play than ever before and control of Congress up for grabs, this political season is among the most contentious and controversial election years in history.

Look no further for proof of this than the incredible amount of money being spent on misleading political ads by special interest groups, especially Big Oil companies, other corporate polluters and their allies. This year alone, the forces that oppose any new clean energy policies and the jobs that come with them have spent $68.5 million combined to advance their anti-clean-energy agenda and to influence the outcome of the midterm elections.
The Center for American Progress Action Fund has tried to quantify the out-of-control spending by these special interests. They analyzed spending by 13 special-interest industry groups and found that they have spent $17.3 million on energy-related television ads since the start of August 2010 on targeted races across the country. That’s a lot of political lubrication of the electoral process. You can see a detailed, interactive map that charts this spending by clicking here.
If you take a look, I doubt you’ll be surprised to learn that some of the biggest spenders on television ads aimed at preventing new clean energy policies are the usual suspects who work so hard to protect corporate profits and distort the impact of new clean energy policies that would reduce our dependence on oil and create up to 2 million new American jobs. For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent $3.5 million since August on anti-clean energy ads. Other shadowy front groups like Crossroads GPS, which shields its donors from the public, have also joined the anti-energy army.
Keep in mind, the huge dollar figures on this report are just for television ads related to energy policy. It doesn’t even scratch the surface of what kind of special interest money is being spent on blocking progress on clean energy and climate policies. An earlier Center for American Progress Action report showed that the 20 biggest-spending oil, mining and electric utility companies spent a whopping $242 million on lobbying from January 2009 to June 2010 and related trade associations generally opposed to clean energy spent another $290 million.
Running television ads during political season and lobbying are well within the rights of these special interest groups. But for those poor families being bombarded by the ads and other communications, it’s probably useful for them to know these groups are involved and be aware of their agenda.